GSA Rejects Face Recognition for IRS and Other Federal Agencies

By Laura Stotler February 11, 2022

The U.S. biometric industry received a blow this week when the General Services Administration (GSA) refused to use facial recognition to secure its service. The GSA, which oversees federal offices and technology, proclaimed the technology has too many problems to be used as an identity verification service.

The move comes as the IRS and other federal agencies are pushing to require users to consent to facial recognition to sign on to government web sites. The Treasury Department awarded a two-year, $86 million contract to, a private contractor, that would require taxpayers to send in video scans of their faces to verify their identities before they could access tax records online. The new system had been scheduled to go live this summer.

According to Dave Zvenyach, director of the GSA Technology Transformation Services, the agency "is committed to not deploying facial recognition… or any other emerging technology for use with government benefits and services until rigorous review has given us confidence that we can do so equitably and without causing harm to vulnerable populations.”

The announcement comes after federal tests revealed that facial recognition systems work less accurately for people with darker skin tones. The systems are not regulated in the U.S., and members of Congress along with privacy advocates claim they could undermine citizens' privacy rights or create unfair disadvantages to those without access to a smartphone, laptop camera or the internet.

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig this week after the announcement, calling on the department to reverse its decision. The letter stated that it was "simply unacceptable to force Americans to submit to scans using facial recognition technology as a condition of interacting with the government online.”

Wyden added government agencies had failed to prioritize digital identity and this inaction had fueled a market for stolen personal data and fraud and had "enabled companies like to commercialize what should be a core government service. The infrastructure that powers digital identity, particularly when used to access government websites, should be run by the government.” already runs identity-verification systems for 10 federal agencies, 30 states and hundreds of companies. The company said in a statement it is “committed to working together with the IRS to implement the best identity verification solutions to prevent fraud, protect Americans’ privacy, and ensure equitable, bias-free access to government services.”

Edited by Luke Bellos
Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox. [Free eNews Subscription]

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

Related Articles

$100M Towards Innovative Capital Options: AppDirect Secures New Funding from CDPQ

By: Alex Passett    1/9/2024

New funding from CDPQ provides AppDirect with the power to help technology providers and advisors in transforming and scaling their businesses while m…

Read More

NextPlane's Affordable Microsoft Teams PSTN Calling Solution for UCaaS and Service Providers

By: TMCnet Staff    5/23/2023

NextPlane's Affordable Microsoft Teams PSTN Calling Solution for UCaaS and Service Providers

Read More

Snapchat Announces its New ChatGPT-Powered 'My AI' Chatbot

By: Alex Passett    2/27/2023

The popular app Snapchat is now offering a new friend, of sorts: My AI. Powered by ChatGPT, the bot is already integrated for select users to experime…

Read More

Black-owned Businesses See Vision Become Reality with Dialpad, and Sacramento King's Davion Mitchell

By: Greg Tavarez    2/24/2023

Dialpad is further expanding its Tech for Black Founders program and partnership with Sacramento Kings' point guard Davion Mitchell to promote Black-o…

Read More

IDEA Showcase 2023 at ITEXPO Gives Startups Opportunity for Exposure

By: Greg Tavarez    2/16/2023

IDEA Showcase 2023 at ITEXPO in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, gave entrepreneurs a chance to present pitches to a panel of judges.

Read More