ID.me is a recent platform that the IRS was using as an online identity verification process for taxpayers to access self-help tools.  To verify their identity with ID.me, taxpayers needed to provide a photo of an identity document such as a driver's license, state ID or passport. They also needed to take a selfie with a smartphone or a computer with a webcam. Once their identity had been verified, the were able to access IRS online services.

 

Various people protested to Congress and that reached the IRS.  On February 7, 2022, the IRS announced it would transition away from using ID.me and its facial recognition tools to help authenticate people creating new online accounts. The transition was to occur over the following weeks in order to prevent larger disruptions to taxpayers during filing season.

During the transition, the IRS stated they would quickly develop and bring online an additional authentication process that does not involve facial recognition. The IRS stated they would “continue to work with its cross-government partners to develop authentication methods that protect taxpayer data and ensure broad access to online tools.”

 

On this episode, Andrew Belter and William Schmidt spoke with John Gilmore, Head of Research at Abine/DeleteMe.  The conversation started with how ID.me came to be used by the federal government and John’s concerns regarding ID.me, such as whether they are regulated and what they do with their data.  We discussed the IRS pivot away from facial recognition and that other state and federal government agencies are still using ID.me.  From there, we look at how this impacts low income taxpayers such as the complaints for people of color using facial recognition and how low income taxpayers do not have access to technology.

 

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