Oregon Sen. Wyden Urges FTC to Investigate ID.me for Facial Recognition Deception

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on Wednesday (May 18) wants the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate whether identity verification services provider ID.me, which is used by federal and state agencies, made “multiple misleading statements” about its facial recognition use.

Wyden wrote a letter to the FTC along with U.S. Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Edward J. Markey, D-Mass.; and Alex Padilla, D-Calif., pushing for the investigation into ID.me, alleging that the company has claimed in blog posts and public statements since at least June 2021 that its “one-to-one” facial recognition technology was superior to “one-to-many” facial recognition, in which a person’s photo is queried against a “digital lineup” of other people’s photos.

Experts say one-to-many facial recognition systems are less accurate at identifying people of color, according to a press release on Wyden’s website. ID.me has sought to distance itself from those systems, as on Jan. 24, when Chief Executive Officer Blake Hall published a statement in which he emphasized that ID.me “does not use 1:many [one-to-many] facial recognition,” calling it “problematic” and “tied to surveillance applications.”

Two days later, Hall said in a LinkedIn post that ID.me uses one-to-many facial recognition as part of its identity verification process. Blog posts and other materials on the company’s website were edited after his announcement to amend the company’s previous statements about one-to-many facial recognition, the press release said.

“ID.me’s statements, therefore, appear deceptive, and were harmful in two ways,” the senators concluded in their letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan. “First, they likely misled consumers about how the company was using their sensitive biometric data, including that it would be stored in a database and cross-referenced using facial recognition whenever new accounts were created in the future.

“Second, the statements may have influenced officials at state and federal agencies as they chose an identity verification provider for government services,” the letter said.

Related: Jane on Protecting Retail Customer Data With Digital Identity Verification

Mark Spencer, senior vice president of commercial operations for Jane, recently gave PYMNTS an inside look at the most common threats eCommerce marketplaces face daily and how Jane leverages digital identity protocols for cybersecurity, including fraud threats and protecting against fraud via customer verification.