The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has decided to no longer force taxpayers to submit a scan of their face to access their taxes online.
The agency had previously announced plans to require users to sign into the IRS website through third-party identity verification firm ID.me and provide a government identification document alongside a selfie. The IRS said the move would provide users with greater security and accessibility to their tax information.
That was not received very positively, they announced it would be scrapping its plans to implement the verification system.
“The IRS takes taxpayer privacy and security seriously, and we understand the concerns that have been raised,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in the statement. “Everyone should feel comfortable with how their personal information is secured, and we are quickly pursuing short-term options that do not involve facial recognition.”
The decision to scrap the facial recognition technology follows fierce criticism from voices across the political spectrum as well as privacy advocates. Republican Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker sent a letter to Rettig on Friday asking how the agency arrived at the decision to compel taxpayers to submit selfies, while The Washington Post editorial board slammed the move as posing “serious concerns about privacy.
Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden called on the IRS to abandon its plans to implement facial recognition technology on Monday morning, just hours before the agency’s announcement.
“The Treasury Department has made the smart decision to direct the IRS to transition away from using the controversial ID.me verification service, as I requested earlier today” Wyden said in a statement. “I understand the transition process may take time, but I appreciate that the administration recognizes that privacy and security are not mutually exclusive and no one should be forced to submit to facial recognition to access critical government services.”