The United States’ Internal Revenue Service has abandoned plans to introduce mandatory facial recognition to tax documents. In a recent plan, the IRS attempted to force millions of American citizens to submit to facial scans in order to access tax accounts online.
The move was supposed to be part of a years-long partnership work ID.me, a private facial recognition company. However, after massive backlash, the US tax board has backpedalled away from its horrible plan.
No more IRS facial recognition
Last year, the American Internal Revenue Service planned to make all taxpayers subject to facial recognition technology. In order to access tax records online, participants would need to upload a video of their face to file their taxes.
This was immediately met with a horde of backlash. The plan to make facial recognition mandatory was, rightly, pointed out as being inaccessible to millions of Americans. Additionally, people with darker skin have a notoriously difficult time with face recognition AI.
In response to the backlash, the IRS has backed away from its phenomenally stupid plan. ID.me’s functionality will not be phased out over the course of a few weeks, reverting the online tax process back to normal.
IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig explained the decision in a recent statement:
“[We take] taxpayer privacy and security seriously, and we understand the concerns that have been raised. 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.”
However, the Revenue Service isn't done with introducing new technologies into the tax system. The IRS will continue to experiment with new methods of user verification with “cross-government partners”.
In something as important as filing taxes, technology should make the process as easy as possible. Instead, facial recognition technology gates off online tax filing and makes the process more complicated than it should be. After all, filing tax returns is already a stressful and boring activity.
Adding new technology to required activities is an interesting thing to discuss in weekly meetings, but it doesn't make the service better for individuals. With this in mind, what will the IRS think of next? Mail-in selfies?