Never let a good crisis go to waste. Those words resonate in light of the current backlash surrounding ID.me and their $86 million government contract with the IRS. By way of background, the IRS chose ID.me as their identity vendor last year, only to find out that the company uses a type of facial recognition that searches for individuals in mass databases of photos — including Amazon’s Rekogition facial database — and saves those images for 7.5 years after an account has been closed.
Consumers are enraged, so too are privacy experts and members of Congress, who have called for an end to the program with ID.me, noting that “…the IRS should promptly revert its decision to require use of ID.me to transact online through the IRS website.”
Social media has exploded with angered consumers who have suffered as a result of the ID.me IRS contract:
“ID.me has created a whole new dimension of hardship for poor families.”
“Please run away from this scam artist company.”
“Don’t act like you care. You’re just here to take that sweet government money.”
“Bro y’all holding people back, suspending people for no reason.”
Is ID.me the Problem or a Symptom?
By stepping into the IRS contract, ID.me seems like they are the root of the problem. No doubt they have compounded the issue with legendary poor customer service and by being disingenuous about how their technology works.
But they are really the symptom of a much larger issue — the struggle of identity ownership in the digital age. Does the government own our identity? What about Big Tech or the social media giants? The answer is none of the above. The ID.me contract with the IRS is simply the most shining example of what is wrong with digital identity today.
ID.me + the IRS represents the status quo that we’re all unhappy with. It’s clunky and cumbersome, prone to privacy concerns, and feels Big Brotherish. But alas, there is change on the horizon.
The Future of Digital Identity
The new digital identity paradigm is crashing the old, centralized model where we give more and more of our personal information to more and more big companies. It has a few key characteristics:
It’s decentralized. The emergence of new technologies, including the blockchain, is decentralizing identity. We can now store our digital identity information in a wallet, and we no longer need passwords and identity checks — they’ve been replaced with un-phisable cryptographic keys which authenticate us to businesses while also securing our communication.
It’s protective of your privacy. Our personal information won’t be stored in hundreds of databases, which are prone to hacking. We can now store our information in encrypted wallets, and we can prove things about our identity without oversharing personal information (e.g., proving our age without sharing our date of birth).
We own our identity, and it’s an asset. Personal data should be regarded as a human right, just like access to water is a human right. Our data itself should be treated like property and we should be fairly compensated for it. We can now be players in the marketplace for our personal information, just like the data monarchs that make billions off our data.
The future is here. Dentity shares these values. In fact, it’s the reason we started the company — to give consumers a way to build trust online, protect their privacy, and own their identity. Please join us!