Monday, January 30

United States Congress investigates the use of facial recognition



WASHINGTON.— Two committees in the US House of Representatives have launched an investigation into the government’s use of facial recognition software. The most recent user of this technology was the Internal Revenue Office, which backed off when lawmakers and privacy advocates voiced complaints.

Critics said facial recognition databases could be targeted by cyber threats and expressed concern about the possible use of the information by other government agencies.

In a letter to Blake Hill, CEO of ID.me, the legislators requested documents and information about the company’s contracts with 10 federal agencies and 30 state governments for the use of its facial recognition technology, including the Internal Revenue Service. Internal Treasury Department (IRS).

“I am deeply concerned about the lack of a clear plan from the federal government, allowing agencies like the IRS to sign contracts worth tens of millions of dollars with doubtful conditions and supervision mechanismsHouse Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said in a statement.

“Without clear rules, agencies will continue to turn to companies like ID.me, increasing the risk that essential services will not be equitably provided to Americans, or denied outright, and their biometric data will not be properly protected.”

The letter bears the signatures of Maloney and James Clyburn, who chairs the Special Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. The Washington Post newspaper had the scoop on this information.

A company representative said in an email statement that “ID.me remains a highly effective solution available to government agencies that provides the most access for underserved Americans.”

“ID.me complies with federal identity verification and login standards while providing services to public sector agencies. These standards have been remarkably effective in preventing fraud. Four states have recognized ID.me in preventing $210 billion worth of fraud,” the statement said.

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In February, the IRS said it would suspend the use of facial recognition technology for authentication of people who create accounts online due to criticism from privacy advocates and lawmakers.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden also called on the IRS to end its use of the ID.me.

The IRS is understaffed and tasked with administering programs related to the pandemic.

Monday is the deadline for submitting tax returns.

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