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ID.me offers selfie deletion following biometric backlash

To sell government agencies in-person verification services
ID.me offers selfie deletion following biometric backlash

Identity verification firm ID.me is to offer U.S. government agencies more staffed verification services – in-person or online – as an alternative to automated facial recognition, and will offer registrants options to delete from their accounts photos gathered during sign up.

The news follows growing controversy over the firm’s processes and a letter to the IRS commissioner from Republican senators raising their concerns and asking questions.

Both human-handled services were already available, with 650 in-person centers in certain locations already announced. ID.me partnered with background check specialist Sterling Check in November 2021 to offer in-person identity verification in retail settings in New Jersey. The state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development intended the service to make access more equitable for those without the right technology, skills or connectivity.

The video chat with an operator option has been criticized for taking multiple hours for some users. In the latest announcement, ID.me states that its trained agents have already verified more than three million Americans including the unbanked, homeless people and international users.

While New Jersey wanted in-person registration for equity reasons, ID.me’s services have been subject to growing concerns over privacy and data protection. “Today, ID.me is expanding this capability to include individuals who do not wish to use automated facial recognition at all,” states the announcement.

“We have listened to the feedback about facial recognition and are making this important change, adding an option for users to verify directly with a human agent to ensure consumers have even more choice and control over their personal data,” says ID.me co-founder and CEO, Blake Hall.

“In recent weeks, we have modified our process so government agencies can empower people to choose to verify their identity with an expert human agent without going through a selfie check. Agencies can now select this configuration. Additionally, all ID.me users will be able to delete their selfie or photo at account.ID.me beginning on March 1,” adds Hall.

In-person verification services may increase the cost for government agencies, but ID.me has made claims about how the verification facility saves huge amounts of money, such as US$40 billion for Arizona and the firm maintains it has saved the country hundreds of billions of dollars by stopping organized crime from defrauding unemployment benefits.

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