House Committees Scrutinize Government Use Of Facial Recognition Software

In a blow to and other biometric security providers, two committees in the U.S. House of Representatives have opened investigations into the Internal Revenue Service’s use of facial recognition software. Lawmakers and privacy advocates have raised concerns about the technology’s potential for use by cyber criminals or use by other governmental agencies, citing the need for stronger safeguards. The committees requested documents and information regarding the firm’s contracts to provide biometric security systems to 10 federal agencies and 30 state governments.

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The IRS suspended its use of facial recognition software after the criticism arose.’s facial recognition software was originally being used to verify the identities of citizens who have opened online profiles with the agency. The firm issued a statement in response that cited its adherence to federal guidelines and a positive track record preventing $210 billion in fraud for four states. Federal agencies have struggled with issues related to cybersecurity software, and at a time of heightened threat from hostile foreign governments and hacking groups such as Russia’s Cozy Bear.