After a broken govtech deal, McLean, Virginia identity tech company ID.me now faces even more scrutiny from the federal government.
The (possibly former) tech darling of Northern Virginia, which was even looking at an IPO, has encountered several issues following a controversial deal with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The contract was dropped in February, but now, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform is calling for an investigation into the growth company.
The committee, led by Reps. James Clyburn and Carolyn Maloney, on Thursday sent a letter to ID.me’s CEO Blake Hall that requested various documents and additional info on the company’s government contracts. ID.me currently works with 10 federal agencies and 30 state governments that use its facial recognition and identity verification tech.
In February, the IRS said that it modified its contract with ID.me following an additional letter from the Oversight Committee. The new deal required the company to “destroy all biometric selfies, selfie videos, and video recordings of users it had already received by March 11, 2022.” It would also have to delete recordings of video series and live video chats.
“Our Committees take the need to prevent fraud in government programs, including unemployment assistance, extremely seriously,” the Thursday letter to Hall reads. “However, your estimate far exceeds fraud figures from state governments and federal agencies.”
“You have not provided a clear description of how ID.me reached its estimate,” the letter continues.
In accordance with the letter’s ask, ID.me is being compelled to send the committee the following:
- A detailed list of its biometric authentication contracts with the government, starting in 2014
- Detailed information on the unemployment contracts for which ID.me has provided verification
- The company’s policies regarding government contracts
- ID.me’s policies for using Duplicate Face Detection systems in its government contracts
- All of the company’s communications with the IRS regarding one-to-many facial recognition and Duplicate Face Detection
- All of ID.me’s documentation on trends in error rates and database assessments for training algorithms
- The company’s profits and revenues from January 2020 to February 2022, broken down by month
- All of its investor-facing materials, including pitch decks and executive summaries, on its ability to detect fraud
“We look forward to providing important information to the Committee on how ID.me has expanded access to government for disadvantaged Americans, including individuals who do not have credit history, are underbanked or are without a home,” said ID.me in a statement distributed to Technical.ly and other news outlets. “ID.me remains a highly effective solution available for government agencies that provides the most access for under-served Americans.”
In response to the investigation, ID.me continued to reference the fraud detection capabilities of its software and past successes. It noted that the company has “nearly doubled the number of people able to create an IRS account” and made it easier for Americans to access tax info. ID.me adheres to the federal guidelines for identity verification, it said, as it works with the public sector. Four states have reportedly credited the company with preventing $210 billion in fraud amidst a spike in identity theft throughout the pandemic.
“When it comes to equitable access to digital services, ID.me is leading the way — nearly doubling access rates relative to alternative solutions.” Hall wrote in a Linkedin statement.
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