IRS Concerned That Faces Not Ringing Bells
Having recently unveiled plans to use facial recognition software on taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service just as recently unveiled plans not to—a contradiction one might expect were the department run by Batman’s nemesis Two-Face.
The scheme was for taxpayers to file their returns as usual, but by this summer provide facial scans in order to access their records, such as child tax credits, payment plans or tax transcripts. This process would be scrupulously monitored by henchmen aboard Two-Face’s undetectable crime dirigible floating high above Gotham City.
To demonstrate their confidence in the plan, the IRS quickly followed that announcement with its cancelation, explaining – while tugging uncomfortably at their collars and mopping sweat from their foreheads – that what we meant to imply…that is, to clarify…on further reflection, as viewed in the rearview mirror with an eye toward the future (mop, mop!) our left hand is now in complete agreement with our right!
Thus, the IRS will stop using facial recognition technology on taxpayers and instead explore other security options, including facial recognition technology.
HENCHMEN: “Boss! BOSS! Do you read us? We sees da’ bat signal! You’se gotta get us outta here! Right NOW!”
It’s unclear whether this retrenchment was motivated by security and privacy concerns, technology roadblocks, or rare bipartisan protests by lawmakers that didn’t end in screaming, bloodshed and sedition.
But there is no doubt of the depth of thought, grasp of technology, and clear strategy behind IRS policy development, as evidenced by this unredacted readout from a meeting of the agency’s Working Committee on Facial Recognition, Cyber Security, and Crime Boss Placation.
IRS SUBORDINATE 1: “So, this ‘facial recognition’ thing? Is it like Minecraft?”
IRS SUBORDINATE 2: “What’s ‘Minecraft?’”
SUBORDINATE 1: “Dunno. My kid plays it. In fact, that’s all he does. Last night, he wouldn’t even—”
IRS SUBORDINATE 3: “Look, I’ve explained it to you so many times even the henchman gets it!”
SUBORDINATE 3: “No offense meant. Facial recognition is a type of biometric security to digitally identify or confirm an individual by using their face.”
SUBORDINATE 1: “They can do that?”
SUBORDINATE 3: (Sighs) “Yes, they can do that.”
SUBORDINATE 2: “Do I have to smush my face against the computer?”
SUBORDINATE 1: “Don’t use my screen!”
SUBORDINATE 2: “Can it identify me if I make a face like this?”
SUBORDINATE 1: “Ewwww!”
SUBORDINATE 3: “Yuck! Doesn’t that hurt?”
HENCHMAN: “Y’know, if someone hits you on the back while you’re doing that, your face will get stuck forever!”
LEAD AGENT: “OK, let’s stay on task, everybody. We were discussing Facial Rearrangement—
SUBORDINATE 3: “Recognition!”
LEAD AGENT: “Yes, yes. That! I think we all agree that none of us really has any idea what Facial Recognition is, how it works, or whether it’s secure. Correct?”
SUBORDINATE 2: “That’s a given.”
LEAD AGENT: “Well, the good news is we’re not doing that ‘Racial Re-ignition’—”
IRS SUBORDINATE 3: “FACIAL…Recognition!”
LEAD AGENT: “Yes! We’re not doing that…thing…anymore.”
HENCHMAN: “Is it because I’m ugly?”
SUBORDINATE 3: “Can we go home now?”
LEAD AGENT: “First, we have to clarify this agency’s latest position on… ‘Facial. Recognition.’”
SUBORDINATE 3: “Nailed it!”
(Sound of fists bumping.)
LEAD AGENT: “Simply put, from this point on taxpayers can use facial recognition technology for identity verification. But they don’t have to use facial recognition technology, and they can opt out of using facial recognition technology. Or they can continue to use facial recognition technology, but instead they’ll have a live, virtual interview with a representative from a third-party service for identity verification.”
HENCHMAN: “Soooooo, it is like Minecraft?”
IRS SUBORDINATE 3: “This is all very contradictory!”
LEAD AGENT: (Whispering) “And that’s exactly how The Boss likes it!”
(From the Grand Office down the hall can be heard maniacal laughter that changes to soulful sobbing, then back to maniacal laughter.)