The Internal Revenue Service announced in November 2021 that it would use facial recognition technology offered by to authenticate taxpayers before using any online services the IRS provides, including viewing accounts, making online payments, or updating personal information. The IRS expected taxpayers to create an account no later than summer of 2022 by uploading a “video selfie” to register.

Thankfully, privacy advocates and some members of Congress pushed back, raising concerns that: 1) a third party would hold and maintain millions of individuals’ biometric information and questioning the ability of that third party to ensure the security of the information; 2) the use of facial recognition is not reliable and it often “misidentifies women, people of color and gender-nonconforming individuals;” and 3) the need for a smartphone or other technology “creates undue hurdles for economically disadvantaged Americans, seniors and other groups.”

The IRS reversed its course on February 7, 2022, and issued a brief press release stating that it would “transition away from use of third-party verification involving facial recognition” over the coming weeks, and “will quickly develop and bring online an additional authentication process that does not involve facial recognition.”

Hopefully the new authentication process will be as easy as it was to order home COVID-19 tests from the postal service. That process was amazing and didn’t require the uploading of any biometric information.