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Blunt, Merkley Introduce Legislation Banning the Use of Facial Recognition Technology at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

February 28, 2022

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.) today announced the introduction of their No Facial Recognition at the IRS Act,  a bipartisan bill to ban the use of biometric recognition technology by the IRS. The introduction of Blunt and Merkley's bill comes less than a month after the senators sent a letter to the agency demanding it immediately stop the use of biometric recognition and data collection on American taxpayers.

"It is completely unacceptable for the IRS to demand Americans submit sensitive biometric data to access basic government services and tax information," said Blunt. "Given the IRS's past failures to protect taxpayer data, Americans should be rightly concerned about trusting the agency with their facial recognition data. I appreciate Senator Merkley's partnership and encourage all of our colleagues to join us in our effort to permanently protect taxpayers' privacy and security."

"The IRS's decision to walk back its use of facial recognition technology was the right decision to make, but a decision that shouldn't have to be made," said Merkley. "Facial recognition technology is not perfect. There are reports that this technology often misidentifies women and people of color. This process is burdensome, invasive, inconsistent, and unnecessary--taxpayers deserve to have their privacy protected. I look forward to continuing my work with Senator Blunt to ensure the IRS will be permanently banned from using this intrusive technology."

The No Facial Recognition at the IRS Act will:

  • Ban the IRS from using, or contracting to use, biometric recognition technology.       
  • Give the IRS a 60-day timeframe from when the bill is enacted to ensure all biometric data collected by the IRS or any party contracting with the IRS has been deleted.   

Blunt and Merkley have also led bipartisan efforts to ensure American citizens know their right to opt out of federal programs that use sensitive biometric data. Last month, the two senators led a letter addressing the right for Americans to opt out of the use of facial recognition technology during the U.S. Customs and Border Protection entry/exit process.

The full text of the bill can be found here.


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