- The IRS will let users opt out of using facial recognition to access their tax records online.
- Instead users will have a “virtual interview” with an IRS agent.
- The agency told users last month they would have to create ID.me accounts which require facial recognition.
The Internal Revenue Service has scrapped plans that would force people to use facial recognition when paying their taxes online.
The IRS said in a statement Monday that users will be able to opt out of handing over any biometric data when submitting their returns. It comes after the emergence of the plans triggered privacy concerns.
“Taxpayers will have the option of verifying their identity during a live, virtual interview with agents; no biometric data – including facial recognition – will be required if taxpayers choose to authenticate their identity through a virtual interview,” the IRS said in its statement .
A message on the IRS website – first spotted last month by security blogger Brian Krebs – told users that they would need to create an account with ID.me, a digital identification company, to access their taxes from summer 2022, sparking concerns among both privacy activists and lawmakers.
Creating an account with ID.me involves submitting various pieces of identification, including a video selfie for facial recognition.
Senator Ron Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, wrote to the IRS urging it to reverse the decision citing “serious privacy and civil liberties issues” associated with facial recognition technology.
In its statement Monday, the IRS also said that new rules are in place to protect users who do choose to use facial recognition, as their photos will be deleted after their accounts are created.
“Any existing biometric data from taxpayers who previously created an IRS Online Account that has already been collected will also be permanently deleted over the course of the next few weeks,” it added.
The agency also announced earlier this month it would transition away from using third-party service ID.me for facial recognition.