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US Taxes Ditch Facial Recognition

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The federal tax agency, the IRS, announces that it is giving up using ID.me, a facial recognition authentication service. This follows concerns over privacy and data security.

End of facial recognition by the IRS

“The IRS takes the privacy and security of taxpayer data seriously. We understand that (the current system) raises concerns”said the head of the agency, Chuck Rettig, quoted in a press release. “Everyone should be comfortable with the method of safeguarding their personal information, and we are actively looking for short-term alternatives that do not require facial recognition”he added.

US Senator Ron Wyden, who had protested against this system, welcomed this decision on Twitter. “Forcing Americans to use facial recognition as a condition for interacting with essential government services is unacceptable”, he wrote in a letter to the IRS. He also points out that this type of technology has created problems of discrimination, particularly against non-white people.

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This is a long-standing criticism of opponents of these artificial intelligence methods: algorithms, trained from predominantly white populations, make more errors on black people in particular. Many NGOs and elected politicians therefore accuse facial recognition of systematizing the human biases already present in society. They also point out the risks in terms of personal data protection.

In the United States, faced with pressure from associations, large groups such as Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Google have stopped, at least temporarily, selling their facial recognition software to police forces. And Facebook decided last November to dispense with facial recognition, which since 2010 has made it possible to identify people present in photos or videos posted on the social network.

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