IRS to adopt Login.gov as user authentication tool

Signs inside the 18F headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Tajha Chappellet-Lanier / FedScoop)

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The Internal Revenue Service has committed to Login.gov as a user authentication tool after earlier this month agreeing to abandon the use of a commercial tool that featured third-party facial recognition technology.

In a statement on Monday, the Treasury Department said it is working with the General Services Administration to achieve the “security standards and scale” required to adopt the platform.

It comes after IRS earlier this month announced a plan to move away from using a third-party service for facial recognition to authenticate taxpayers creating new online accounts. It was forced to reject the technology following revelations that contractor ID.me uses powerful one-to-many facial recognition technology.

“While this short-term solution is in place for this year’s filing season, the IRS will work closely with partners across government to roll out login.gov as an authentication tool,” IRS said.

While Login.gov is not expected to be ready in time for use by taxpayers during the current tax season, users are now able to sign up for IRS online accounts without the use of any biometric data. Any previously collected biometric data will also be deleted over the next few weeks, according to IRS.

Privacy advocates say that various types of facial recognition pose a threat to consumers. In addition to numerous studies demonstrating the technology is less accurate on non-White skin tones, amassing biometric data can prove a huge security risk.

“This is consistent with the IRS’s commitment earlier this month to transition away from the requirement for taxpayers creating an IRS online account to provide a selfie to a third-party service to help authenticate their identity,” IRS said in a statement. “Taxpayers will have the option of verifying their identity during a live, virtual interview with agents; no biometric data – including facial recognition – will be required if taxpayers choose to authenticate their identity through a virtual interview.”

Despite the move to Login.gov, taxpayers will still have the option to verify their identity automatically through ID.me’s tool if they choose. New requirements are in place to ensure images provided are deleted for the account being created.

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General Services Administration (GSA), ID.me, Internal Revenue Service, login.gov, Treasury Department
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