Following Committee Briefing with IRS, Chairwoman Maloney Presses for Information on ID.me Collecting Data of Nearly 7 Million Americans

Feb 11, 2022
Press Release
Letter Raises Concerns Over Data Privacy, Security, and Taxpayer Cost After IRS Terminated Contract with Private Company

Washington, D.C. (February 11, 2022)—Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to Charles Rettig, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), requesting more information about the costs associated with the agency’s decision to cancel its contract with ID.me and the IRS’s plans to safeguard the biometric data of seven million American taxpayers who already submitted their information to the private company.

 

“I welcome your decision to reconsider the use of facial recognition technology, but I remain concerned about the ongoing impact on the millions of Americans who have already turned over their biometric data to a private company as well as the potential costs to American taxpayers given the agency’s about-face on this multimillion-dollar contract,” wrote Chairwoman Maloney.

 

Following reports that the IRS would soon begin requiring users to log in using ID.me to access their taxpayer data, the Committee requested and received a briefing from IRS senior officials on February 4, 2022. 

 

At the briefing, the Committee learned that seven million Americans had already been directed by the IRS to sign up with ID.me.  Under IRS’s stated records retention requirements, ID.me will possess biometric information on these individuals for seven years before the IRS can request for the information to be deleted.  Although the IRS is now terminating the contract, those Americans’ highly personal information may continue to be held by a third party outside of the IRS’s direct control—increasing the potential for exposure to bad actors and other cybersecurity incidents.  The company has asserted that individuals can request to have their records deleted starting on March 1, but it is unclear how the IRS plans to oversee this process or how it will be impacted by the agency’s record retention requirements.

 

At the briefing, IRS officials also confirmed widespread issues related to the use of nascent facial recognition technology.  IRS officials stated that since June 2021, 13% of users had trouble authenticating through the ID.me service, which caused them to be referred to a customer service representative who would attempt to manually verify identity over video chat.

 

The Committee has long expressed concern regarding the oversight and regulation of facial recognition technology and its potential to discriminate against certain groups, such as people of color and women.  On May 22, 2019, the Committee held its first in a series of hearings on the matter.

 

The Committee’s letter requests that IRS provide all documents relating to the contract with ID.me by February 25, 2022.

 

Click here to read the letter.

 

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Issues: 
117th Congress