back to article IRS doesn't completely scrap facial recognition, just makes it optional

America's Internal Revenue Service has confirmed taxpayers will not be forced to use facial recognition to verify their identity. The agency also set out rules for which images will be deleted. Folks setting up an online IRS account will be given the choice of providing biometric data to an automated system, or speaking with a …

  1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Trust?

    Why do I not believe either the Incompetent Ripoff Service or the frauds at ID.ME? Scum meet sleaze.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've read 6 versions of this article on different sites

    not one of them answers the basic question of why the IRS thought/claimed this was necessary in the first place. People have been merrily filing their taxes online for quite a while now, why the change?

    Also, why facial recognition, why biometrics, and in what way is having me upload a copy of an id verifying anything? Unless they are pulling the records from the state dmv/miltary id/passport databases I could upload a fake. If they are pulling them in from those sources, why the effing hell am I uploading a copy when they already have one.

    And having the company delete their copy of the photo of my ID isn't really the whole problem of date (mis)use by a third party company. The company, and the probably shady ways they will sell that data to a third party (or just sell themselves to someone and transer all the data that way) is selling the association and information, not the picture.

    If they wan't to beef up their authentication, ditching their BS pin system in favor of off the shelf TOTP, oauth, etc would probably be a better idea.

    1. johnfbw

      Re: I've read 6 versions of this article on different sites

      A poor implementation doesn't necessarily mean they don't have a reason to do it. Just search for "IRS refund fraud" to see how many people file falsely with other peoples details

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: I've read 6 versions of this article on different sites

      >not one of them answers the basic question of why the IRS thought/claimed this was necessary in the first place. People have been merrily filing their taxes online for quite a while now, why the change?

      Due to the way taxes are collected in the US most people expect a modest refund after they file. Its not a whole lot of money but it represents a lucrative target for identity thieves. There's been a significant uptick of people filing fake returns using stolen IDs which are only noticed when the genuine taxpater files and is told that the IRS already has their return. Since the IRS headcount has been significantly run down over the last decade or two there isn't the resources to investigate each case so the IRS came up with the idea of using a person's face to confirm their identity.

      >Also, why facial recognition, why biometrics, and in what way is having me upload a copy of an id verifying anything? Unless they are pulling the records from the state dmv/miltary id/passport databases I could upload a fake.

      Heard of "Real ID"? This is sold on the notion of being a single standard for driver's licenses and the like but its really a national ID. It takes more documentation to get one than a passport.

      (People in the UK are used to the idea that the government joins up the databases so that when you apply for a driver's license you can use your passport photo rather than sending in yet another picture.)

  3. AMBxx Silver badge
    Boffin

    Facial recognition and women?

    Anyone got any insight into why it works less well in recognising women?

    I understand questions about bias in data sets and shadows with darker skin types not being recognised, but surely there are plenty of samples of women in the image databases?

    I'd have thought the bias would be the other way - too many pictures of women!

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Facial recognition and women?

      At a rough guess maybe because women can change their look easily - change of hairstyle, different make up etc.

      1. wjake

        Re: Facial recognition and women?

        Men can't change their hair, makeup etc? Grow a beard? Shave a beard?

        Do you have any idea how facial recognition works? Hairstyle and makeup are irrelevant. Short of plastic surgery that changes the shape of the noise, eyes, chin, cheekbones, facial shape, etc. you should not be able to fool a proper facial recognition system.

        1. DJO Silver badge

          Re: Facial recognition and women?

          Ah, you must live in an ideal world.

          For those of us who live in the real world know there are a lot of systems which are not "proper".

          You've also never seen a really skilled make up artist at work, a bit of deft playing with highlights and shadows can make a (2D) representation of a face seem completely different.

          Considering the false positive rates made by facial recognition systems in use it seems that it is actually quite easy to fool a facial recognition system, proper or otherwise

          1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            But he said "a proper facial recognition system".

            His point is valid in that specific, restricted area.

            As in, a facial recognition system that does not just a picture, but LIDAR technology or somesuch to create a 3D map of the face on top of visual cues.

            That should prove more difficult to cheat, whatever makeup you have.

            Of course, if you go putting Silly Putty on your face and makeup on top of that, then all bets are off.

            I guess facial regocnition is just doomed from the start.

            1. DJO Silver badge

              In a very limited scope yes.

              One thing I question, how many of the training libraries contain LIDAR maps? - I would estimate the exact number is zero.

        2. lucki bstard

          Re: Facial recognition and women?

          Pendant alert

          ICP makeup seems to work. Niche case but it's there.

          https://www.consequence.net/2019/07/juggalo-makeup-facial-recognition/

          1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: Facial recognition and women?

            > Pendant alert

            "Pedant"

            :D

            (Sorry, had to be done.)

            1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Facial recognition and women?

              Cf The Pedants' Revolt

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Well, I think one of the use cases is to check the progress of your return between the time you submit it and the time the check lands in your account. OTOH, the last time I did my return, they texted me each time the status changed.

  5. Randesigner

    Pork

    Since the only alternative is a video interview, it seems to be that facial recognition is going to be used regardless, just unofficially.

    The whole thing is just kind of ridiculous. Banks and credit agencies check my identity by asking me things only I could know. It doesn't require a human. The cost of this ID.Me program must be staggering.

    1. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Pork

      "Banks and credit agencies check my identity by asking me things only I could know."

      Like your mother's maiden name and your first pet? Facial recognition, especially by a third party, doesn't seem like the best idea, but that doesn't mean there isn't a problem that needs solving. The reason so many different ideas keep being tried out is that verifying identity is a really tricky problem, and none of the solutions we've come up with so far are all that great.

  6. HildyJ Silver badge
    FAIL

    Needed but disappointed

    I fully recognize the need for this. Fraud is too easy. I also recognize that they needed to go outside. Many of their systems are still COBOL mainframe based and they are woefully underfunded due to politics. But turning it over to a private facial scraping and recognition company with a shaky track record is WRONG.

    The General Setrvices Administration operates Login.Gov as a secure single login to government agencies and I see no reason why the IRS doesn't use it. The Social Security Administration does (and I access my records through it).

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