from the Huizenga Huddle: February 18, 2022 – Congressman Bill Huizenga, U.S. Congressman for Michigan’s 2nd District
On January 27th, the Washington Post published an article detailing how the Internal Revenue Service, yes the IRS, was going to implement the use of facial recognition software by summer.
The IRS planned to require taxpayers to submit a face scan or selfie to access basic services provided by the IRS. The Post article described how the IRS had signed an $86 million contract with a private company that would then store the faces of American taxpayers in a database.
After the initial shock, I took action because I viewed this as a massive overreach of the federal government and an enormous invasion of our privacy.
On Friday, February 4th, I introduced the FACE Act to prevent the IRS from using facial recognition software and storing the faces of American taxpayers in a database.
I believe the use of facial recognition technology by the IRS dramatically expands the federal government’s role in data collection and puts the privacy of American taxpayers at far too great a risk.
This database would be a treasure trove of information that could be weaponized by cyber criminals, adversaries such as China or Russia, and based on the past targeting of conservative Americans, even the IRS itself.
On Monday, February 7th, the IRS announced it was backing away from the use of facial recognition software. This about-face by the IRS is good news for Americans who are concerned about their privacy and big government overreach.
Even though the IRS said they were going to abandon their use of facial recognition, I will continue to push for the FACE Act to be enacted. This way, the IRS cannot change its mind down the road and create a database that stores the faces of American taxpayers.
This week, I took my effort to hold the IRS accountable and protect the privacy of American taxpayers a step further by joining with Republican Senators Rick Scott of Florida and Ted Cruz from Texas. Together, we have introduced the Ban IRS Biometrics Act.
This legislation would stop the IRS from collecting ANY type of biometric data. This includes fingerprints, iris scans, or facial scans. Additionally, this legislation requires the IRS or a third-party vendor working on behalf of the IRS to develop a plan to safely and securely destroy any biometric data currently in its possession.
Too often we have seen the federal government creep further and further into the private lives of Americans. The IRS demonstrated a clear desire to collect the biometric information of Americans when they were in the final stages of implementing their facial recognition requirement.
When you combine that desire with the IRS’ history of targeting conservatives and leaking the private information of taxpayers, it’s clear the IRS should not be allowed to collect or require the use of biometric data.
The Ban IRS Biometrics Act is a commonsense approach to strengthen privacy protections for Americans while stopping blatant and invasive overreach by the federal government.