Leaders of the House Oversight and Reform Committee are launching an investigation into identity verification contractor ID.me, citing concerns about the efficacy, security, and privacy of its facial recognition technology that is used by millions of Americans seeking access to government services.

In a 10-page letter to ID.me CEO Blake Hall, Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, and James Clyburn, D-S.C., chair of the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, requested documents and information on ID.me’s contracts with the public sector, which includes 10 Federal agencies and 30 state governments.

The lawmakers voiced “serious concerns” over use of the company’s facial recognition technology, which they fear could potentially be used to discriminate against certain demographics, such as people of color and women.

Additionally, they noted concerns over how ID.me’s technology may have undermined the effectiveness, efficiency, and equity of unemployment assistance programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Without clear rules of the road, agencies will continue to turn to companies like ID.me, which heightens the risk that essential services will not be equitably provided to Americans, or will be outright denied, and that their biometric data won’t be properly safeguarded,” Chairwoman Maloney said in a statement.

The lawmakers also noted the company’s contract with the IRS, which transitioned earlier this year to allow taxpayers to opt-out of using facial recognition technology to verify their identity and access online accounts. Reps. Maloney and Clyburn said nearly seven million Americans have already turned over their biometric data to ID.me and the IRS.

“If ID.me is to continue working with Federal agencies and state governments, it is vital to ensure the proper safeguards are in place to protect Americans’ personal information and ensure their access to benefits for which they are eligible,” they wrote.

The Washington Post first reported the ID.me investigation.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.