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IRS backs down from using facial recognition to verify online users after facing massive criticism

The federal tax agency abandoned ship after concerns of bias and privacy risks were raised regarding facial recognition.

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it will stop availing third-party service for facial recognition that was being used to authenticate people who create new accounts on its online platform. In a press release on February 7, the IRS said that during the transition, it will quickly develop and bring online an additional authentication process that does not involve facial recognition. "Everyone should feel comfortable with how their personal information is secured, and we are quickly pursuing short-term options that do not involve facial recognition," IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said. While western countries like the US might be shying away from the usage of facial recognition, in India, there has been a rise of such technology being deployed, both in the private and public sectors. This move comes after IRS faced massive criticism The agency had originally said that all taxpayers would need to submit a "video selfie" to authenticate themselves and access their tax records and other services on the IRS website, according to a Washington Post report. However, the report said that the decision evoked criticism from lawmakers and advocates saying that it would be unfair towards those who do not have access to smartphones or computer cameras, towards people of colour, and it would also be vulnerable to hackers. Senator Ron Wyden called on the IRS to "end its plan to require facial recognition for online accounts." He said that it was "simply unacceptable to force Americans to submit to scans using facial recognition technology as…

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

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