back to article Face Off: IRS kills plan to verify taxpayers with facial recognition database

The Internal Revenue Service has abandoned its plan to verify the identities of US taxpayers using a private contractor's facial recognition technology after both Democrats and Republicans actively opposed the deal. US Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) on Monday said Treasury Department officials informed his office that the agency has …

  1. ShadowSystems Silver badge

    I sent in my comment.

    Back when they were making RFC WRT using the ID.Me site for id verification, I sent in my comment blasting it for being accessibility hostile.

    I'm totally blind, there's no way in hell I can use a *video chat* bit of software: I can't see to make sure the video camera is even on, I can't see to aim it so that my face is in frame/in focus, I can't troubleshoot it if something goes TITSUP (Total Inability To Support User Photography).

    "Just aim your SmartPhone at your face & we'll tell you when you're in frame." Big Red X, Wrong Answer. I have a FeaturePhone, not a SmartPhone, so I can't run your video chat app. I use a desktop with no video capability at all.

    Unless you're willing to send a tech out to install, set up, configure, & teach me the use thereof of a video system on my desktop, I *can not* use the Id.Me site.

    "You want the blind to use a video chat to show some random person our ID card to prove we are whom we say we are, but how can we verify THEY are whom they claim to be? For all we know we're flashing our credentials to some random crim whose managed an MITM attack on your insecure servers & is harvesting all our data for later use."

    I got the auto-reply "Thank you", but that was it.

    I have zero confidence in my government's ability to secure my PII. I'm not about to give it to some 3rd party that I have even *less* faith in. =-/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'show' shit

      I was figuring I could pull the old "show me yours and I'll show you mine" ploy.

      Then I realized that they were strong-arming me with the "show me yours (face) and then we'll show you yours (tax info)".

      What they don't realize at all is our fear of "show me yours (face) and then we'll show you yours (tax info) and then we'll show both to random cyber-baddies..."

      Whatever happened to the old simple "show me the money!" At least then there was only one bad guy to deal with.

    2. swm Silver badge

      Discrimination

      It is also discriminatory. Many poorer people do not have access to video cameras, internet etc. Only rich people.

  2. cornetman Silver badge

    While I understand the allure of these technologies (facial recognition, iris/retinal scans, fingerprints) for authentication purposes, the problems associated with the primary use of immutable characteristics really should be very obvious now, for the same reason that we keep passwords and private keys safe for the same purpose. Once they escape into the wild, you can neither claw them back nor change them to prevent their subsequent abuse.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not even secure

    Without getting as far as privacy, facial ID is not even secure.

    If you are simply sending a 2D image, that is well known not to be secure. That security on a phone would not be taken seriously.

    If you are sending a 3D image, it is still not secure (never mind surmounting the problem of defining a standard). Once the standard is known, it will be easy to generate fake 3D from 2D pictures Besides just pure guessing at z-coordinates, a few 2D pictures taken from different angles could be used to generate accurate data. And it not like there aren't a zillion selfies on Facebook to work from.

    It would be different if you went to an IRS office and were subjected to a live scan - but that wasn't the plan.

    The whole idea was born of a smattering of tech keywords and a lot of stupid greed.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What facial recognition technology?

    I've already gone through the process of signing up for the IRS credentials using ID.me. Yes, you need to provide a photo of yourself, and just about any snapshot will do. You also need to provide some form of government issued Id with a photo on it, like a driver's license or passport. But once ID.me finishes vetting you, there is no facial recognition required for logging in to the IRS website. Rather, you use a common authenticator, like Authy, to enter a one-time pass code. This is not facial recognition. Rather, it is not unlike signing up for a new bank account. Banks also require facial ID to open an account. I don't see the problem with that, either. But neither then banks nor the IRS are using facial recognition technology for logging in to their portals.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: What facial recognition technology?

      They Scanned my face.

      I needed to get the info off of a letter they sent that got "organized". I had to have the info (Tax season) and, well - My face is now in an IRS database. I guess if they get popped I'll have to make an appointment with a retrophrenologist to change my facial characteristics.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've already gone through the process of singing up for the IRS credentials using ID.me. Yes, you need to provide a photo of yourself, and just about any snapshot will do. You also need to provide some form of government issued Id with a photo on it, like a driver's license or passport. But once ID.me finishes vetting you, there is no facial recognition required for logging in to the IRS website. Rather, you use a common authenticator, like Authy, to enter a one-time pass code. This is not facial recognition. Rather, it is not unlike signing up for a new bank account. Banks also require facial ID to open an account. I don't see the problem with that, either. But neither then banks nor the IRS are using facial recognition technology for logging in to their portals.

  6. RegGuy1 Silver badge

    ID theft?

    What happens when this immutable data is stolen? Does someone have to come round with a hammer to reset your identity.

    What a stupid idea.

  7. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Simpler Solution

    What would happen if governments got rid of income taxes and instead used VATs, sales taxes, excise taxes, duties, etc; taxes that would normally be collected for a business. There is no need for the either citizens to log in or the government to go through these systems as most would never any need to do so. Just thinking outside the box.

    1. uccsoundman

      Re: Simpler Solution

      Because generating revenue is only one purpose of the tax system. The other is social manipulation. For instance, you can deduct the interest on your house mortgage, thus encouraging home ownership. Also VAT taxes only tax the money that you spend. Income taxes get a piece of any money you receive. So, if you win the lottery, the government gets about 1/2 of it even if you never spend a dime of your winnings.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The fact.....

    That someone even thought that photographing every single person and giving that ID to a private company (let alone a government entity) was a good idea and the public would lap it up without question is unbelievable.

    On one hand we are being told to protect our private and online identity as much as possible, on the other, a bunch of clueless muppets want to slurp it all up and store and process it in goodness knows what conditions.

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