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IRS kills plan to verify taxpayers with facial recognition • The Register

The Internal Revenue Service has abandoned its plan to verify the identities of US taxpayers using a private contractor’s facial recognition technology after both Democrats and Republicans actively opposed the deal.

US Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) on Monday said Treasury Department officials informed his office that the agency has decided to move away from using the private facial recognition service ID.me to verify IRS.gov accounts.

“The Treasury Department has made the smart decision to direct the IRS to transition away from using the controversial ID.me verification service, as I requested earlier today,” Wyden said in a statement. “I understand the transition process may take time, but I appreciate that the administration recognizes that privacy and security are not mutually exclusive and no one should be forced to submit to facial recognition to access critical government services.”

In a statement posted to the IRS website, the tax collector’s Commissioner Chuck Rettig said the agency is looking to deploy an authentication mechanism without facial recognition.

“The IRS takes taxpayer privacy and security seriously, and we understand the concerns that have been raised,” said Rettig. “Everyone should feel comfortable with how their personal information is secured, and we are quickly pursuing short-term options that do not involve facial recognition.”

The IRS last November announced that it intended to adopt a new identity verification and sign-in process to allow people to access their tax records online. The agency said it would ask people to provide an image of a suitable identification document and an image or video of their face so ID.me, its private sector partner, could verify their identity.

The tax agency gave ID.me an $86.1m contract to deploy face-based verification for taxpayers this summer. But lawmakers from both sides of the aisle over the past week urged the IRS to rethink its verification initiative.

On Monday, four Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to Rettig asking the agency to halt its plan to deploy facial recognition technology and to find another way.

“We write to you with great concern regarding the IRS’s plan to employ face recognition software requiring millions of Americans to have their face scanned by a private contractor,” said Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA), Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) in their letter. “Any government agency operating a face recognition technology system – or contracting with a third party – creates potential risks of privacy violations and abuse.”

The four lawmakers cautioned that a 2019 cyberattack on a Customs and Border Protection Agency contractor exposed the face images and license plates of thousands of US travelers, and noted how the cybersecurity risk posed by the IRS plan is far greater.

They expressed concern about the likelihood of biased facial recognition algorithms and the agency’s lack of transparency in its dealings with ID.me.

Senator Wyden also wrote to IRS Commissioner Rettig on Monday [PDF], urging that facial recognition technology not be deployed.

“While the IRS had the best of intentions — to prevent criminals from accessing Americans’ tax records, using them to commit identity theft, and make off with other people’s tax refunds — it is simply unacceptable to force Americans to submit to scans using facial recognition technology as a condition of interacting with the government online, including to access essential government programs,” said Wyden.

IRS plans also anger Republicans

On Friday, Congressman Bill Huizenga (R-MI), proposed the Facial Authorization Cannot be Enforced Act or FACE Act to the House of Representatives [PDF], a bill that seeks to prevent the IRS from using facial recognition software and storing the faces of American taxpayers in a database.

Huizenga, like his colleagues from across the aisle, shows little faith that the IRS can keep its IT systems secure and worries that facial recognition data would be used against Americans by enemies outside and inside the country.

“The IRS’ desire to use facial recognition software should be concerning to every American,” said Huizenga in a statement. “The federal government or a vendor it employs should not be requiring Americans to submit to facial recognition in order to access basic IRS services.”

And on Thursday, 15 Republican Senators signed a letter opposing the IRS plan to work with a private contractor on a facial verification system, as did Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), separately.

ID.me responded to a request for comment on the opposition to the deal minutes before Senator Wyden announced the deal was dead.

“We are committed to working together with the IRS to implement the best identity verification solutions to prevent fraud, protect Americans’ privacy, and ensure equitable, bias-free access to government services,” a spokesperson said a statement emailed to The Register.

“To date, IRS and ID.me have worked together to substantially increase the identity verification pass rates from previous levels. These services are essential to helping prevent government benefits fraud that is occurring on a massive scale.”

Asked to comment on the deal’s demise, it responded “We would refer you to the IRS with any questions on this issue,” so that’s the buck firmly passed.

The Register asked the Government Services Administration to confirm a report that it has ruled out using facial recognition in conjunction with its own Login.gov system. But the GSA had not responded at the time this story was filed.

Fight the Future, an advocacy group opposed to facial recognition, applauded the Treasury Department decision.

“This is great news – we’re thrilled that the IRS listened to the public, privacy experts and legislators and has decided away from this truly terrifying technology,” said campaign director Caitlin Seeley George.

“This move will help protect the rights and security of millions of people. We also want all of this energy to continue to push other agencies like the VA and the Social Security Administration, as well as states using ID.me for unemployment benefits, to end their contracts and commit to finding options that protect peoples’ privacy and rights.” ®

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How Automated Moveable Medians Redefining Traffic Flow And Revolutionizing Road Safety

AI Revolutionizing Road Safety

The Voice Of EU | In today’s fast-paced world, where traffic congestion and road safety concerns continue to plague urban landscapes, the integration of advanced technology is becoming a beacon of hope for a safer, and more efficient transportation system. One such groundbreaking innovation that’s redefining traffic flow and ensuring safety on the roads is the implementation of Automated Moveable Medians (AMMs).

The Genesis of Automated Moveable Medians

The traditional median strip, often a static feature on roadways, primarily serves as a visual barrier between opposing lanes, minimizing head-on collisions and contributing to general road safety. However, these static medians often fall short in adapting to dynamic traffic patterns and fail to respond to changing conditions, leading to potential hazards during peak traffic hours or emergencies.

The concept of Automated Moveable Medians (AMMs) marks a paradigm shift in road safety and traffic management. These medians are equipped with cutting-edge AI, Machine Learning, and Robotics technologies, enabling them to autonomously adjust their positions based on real-time traffic conditions, thereby optimizing traffic flow and enhancing safety.

How Automated Moveable Medians Function

Utilizing a network of sensors, cameras, and AI algorithms, AMMs continuously monitor traffic density, speed, and patterns. When traffic begins to congest in one direction, the AMMs autonomously shift their positions, reallocating lanes to accommodate the higher traffic volume. By dynamically altering the median’s position, these systems effectively create additional lanes or expand existing ones, mitigating congestion and reducing the likelihood of accidents.

Statistical Insights Driving Adoption

According to recent studies conducted by transportation authorities in major urban centers:

– AMMs have shown a remarkable reduction of up to 30% in the number of accidents caused by lane misallocation or static medians’ inability to adapt to dynamic traffic.

– Improved traffic flow has led to a significant decrease in commute times by an average of 15%-25% during peak hours.

– Real-time adjustments by AMMs have demonstrated a 25% decrease in overall congestion levels on highly trafficked roads.

– Reduced congestion and smoother traffic flow have translated into a notable decline of up to 30% in carbon emissions in these areas.

The Future Prospects and Challenges

While the advent of AMMs presents a promising solution to traffic-related issues, there are challenges to address. Ensuring the seamless integration of these systems into existing infrastructures, addressing potential cybersecurity threats, and navigating regulatory frameworks are essential considerations for wider implementation.

Moreover, while AMMs offer a viable solution for major roads and highways, their application in densely populated urban areas and narrower streets requires meticulous planning to avoid hindering pedestrian movement and emergency services’ access.

Collaborative Efforts for Implementation

The successful implementation and scalability of AMMs hinge upon collaborative efforts among transportation authorities, urban planners, AI developers, and governmental bodies. The synergy of expertise from these diverse sectors can facilitate the deployment of AMMs in high-priority areas, improving road safety and traffic management.

The emergence of Automated Moveable Medians heralds a new era in transportation innovation. By leveraging advanced technologies, these dynamic systems are not only enhancing traffic flow but also contributing significantly to road safety, making our streets safer and more efficient for all commuters.


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By John Elf, Contributor “The Voice Of EU

— For more information: info@VoiceOfEU.com

— Anonymous news submissions: press@VoiceOfEU.com


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Global Affairs

Open Source Software (OSS) Supply Chain, Security Risks And Countermeasures

OSS Security Risks And Countermeasures

The software development landscape increasingly hinges on open source components, significantly aiding continuous integration, DevOps practices, and daily updates. Last year, Synopsys discovered that 97% of codebases in 2022 incorporated open source, with specific sectors like computer hardware, cybersecurity, energy, and the Internet of Things (IoT) reaching 100% OSS integration.

While leveraging open source enhances efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and developer productivity, it inadvertently paves a path for threat actors seeking to exploit the software supply chain. Enterprises often lack visibility into their software contents due to complex involvement from multiple sources, raising concerns highlighted in VMware’s report last year. Issues include reliance on communities to patch vulnerabilities and associated security risks.

Raza Qadri, founder of Vibertron Technologies, emphasizes OSS’s pivotal role in critical infrastructure but underscores the shock experienced by developers and executives regarding their applications’ OSS contribution. Notably, Qadri cites that 95% of vulnerabilities surface in “transitive main dependencies,” indirectly added open source packages.

Qadri also acknowledges developers’ long-standing use of open source. However, recent years have witnessed heightened awareness, not just among developers but also among attackers. Malware attacks targeting the software supply chain have surged, as demonstrated in significant breaches like SolarWinds, Kaseya, and the Log4j exploit.

Log4j’s widespread use exemplifies the consolidation of risk linked to extensively employed components. This popular Java-based logging tool’s vulnerabilities showcase the systemic dependency on widely used software components, posing significant threats if exploited by attackers.

Moreover, injection of malware into repositories like GitHub, PyPI, and NPM has emerged as a growing threat. Cybercriminals generate malicious versions of popular code to deceive developers, exploiting vulnerabilities when components are downloaded, often without the developers’ knowledge.

Despite OSS’s security risks, its transparency and visibility compared to commercial software offer certain advantages. Qadri points out the swift response to Log4j vulnerabilities as an example, highlighting OSS’s collaborative nature.

Efforts to fortify software supply chain security are underway, buoyed by multi-vendor frameworks, vulnerability tracking tools, and cybersecurity products. However, additional steps, such as enforcing recalls for defective OSS components and implementing component-level firewalls akin to packet-level firewalls, are necessary to fortify defenses and mitigate malicious attacks.

Qadri underscores the need for a holistic approach involving software bills of materials (SBOMs) coupled with firewall-like capabilities to ensure a comprehensive understanding of software contents and preemptive measures against malicious threats.

As the software supply chain faces ongoing vulnerabilities and attacks, concerted efforts are imperative to bolster security measures, safeguard against threats, and fortify the foundational aspects of open source components.


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By John Elf | Science, Technology & Business contributor VoiceOfEU.com Digital

— For more information: info@VoiceOfEU.com

— Anonymous news submissions: press@VoiceOfEU.com


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Culture

Choco: Revolutionizing The FoodTech Industry With Innovation & Sustainability | EU20

By Clint Bailey

— In the rapidly evolving world of food technology, European startup Choco has emerged as a pioneering force. With its website, Choco.com, this Berlin-based company is transforming the way food industry professionals operate by leveraging innovative digital solutions. By linking restaurants, distributors, suppliers, and producers on a single platform, Choco is streamlining the supply chain process while promoting sustainability.

Let’s explore the journey of Choco.com and its impact on the overall foodtech industry.


  1. Company: Choco Technologies GmbH
  2. Website: www.Choco.com
  3. Head Office: Berlin, Germany
  4. Year Established: 2018
  5. Founders: Choco was co-founded by Daniel Khachab, Julian Hammer, and Rogerio da Silva.
  6. Industry: Choco operates in the foodtech industry, specifically focusing on digitizing the supply chain for the food industry.
  7. Funding: Choco has secured significant funding rounds from investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners & Coatue Management.
  8. Market Presence: Choco has a strong presence in several European cities, including Berlin, Paris, London & Barcelona.
  9. Mission: Choco aims to revolutionize the food industry by leveraging technology to simplify supply chain management, promote sustainability, and reduce food waste.

Simplifying Supply Chain Management

One of the core focuses of Choco is to simplify supply chain management for food businesses. Traditionally, the procurement process in the food industry has been cumbersome and inefficient, with numerous intermediaries and manual processes. Choco’s digital platform replaces the traditional paper-based ordering system, allowing restaurants and suppliers to communicate and collaborate seamlessly.

Choco’s platform enables restaurants to place orders directly with suppliers, eliminating the need for phone calls, faxes, or emails. This not only saves time but also reduces the likelihood of errors and miscommunications.

By digitizing the ordering process, Choco improves transparency, making it easier for restaurants to compare prices, track deliveries, and manage inventory efficiently.

Streamlining Operations For Suppliers & Producers

Choco’s impact extends beyond restaurants. The platform also provides suppliers and producers with valuable tools to streamline their operations. By digitizing their product catalogs and integrating them into the Choco platform, suppliers can showcase their offerings to a wide network of potential buyers.

Suppliers benefit from increased visibility, enabling them to reach new customers and expand their market presence. Moreover, Choco’s platform helps suppliers manage their inventory, track orders, and plan deliveries effectively. These features enhance operational efficiency, reduce waste, and ultimately contribute to a more sustainable food system.

https://youtube.com/@choco233
YouTube Channel

Promoting Sustainability & Reducing Food Waste

Choco recognizes the critical importance of sustainability in the food industry. According to the United Nations, approximately one-third of the world’s food production goes to waste each year. By digitizing the supply chain and enabling more efficient ordering and inventory management, Choco actively works to combat this issue.

Air France – Deals & Destinations

Choco’s platform facilitates data-driven decision-making for restaurants, suppliers, and producers. By analyzing purchasing patterns & demand, Choco helps businesses optimize their inventory levels, reducing overstocking and minimizing food waste. Additionally, Choco supports local sourcing, enabling businesses to connect with nearby suppliers & promote sustainable, community-based practices.

Expanding Reach & Impact

Since its founding in 2018, Choco has experienced rapid growth and expansion. The startup has successfully secured significant funding rounds, allowing it to scale its operations and establish a strong presence across Europe and other global markets. Today, Choco’s platform is used by thousands of restaurants and suppliers, revolutionizing the way they operate.

Choco’s impact extends beyond operational efficiency or sustainability. By connecting restaurants, suppliers & producers on a single platform, Choco fosters collaboration & encourages the exchange of ideas. This collaborative approach strengthens the overall foodtech ecosystem and creates a supportive community of like-minded aiming to drive positive change within the industry.

Future Of FoodTech

Choco’s rise to prominence in the foodtech industry exemplifies the reach of sustainability, innovation, and community. Through its user-friendly platform, Choco simplifies supply chain management, streamlines operations for restaurants & suppliers, and actively promotes sustainable practices. By harnessing the potential of digital, Choco is disrupting the future of the food industry, making it more efficient and transparent.

As Choco continues to expand its impact and reach, its transformative influence on the foodtech sector is set to inspiring, grow other startups, and established players to embrace technology for a better and more sustainable food system.


We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!


— Compiled by Clint Bailey | Team ‘Voice of EU’
— For More Info. & News Submissions: info@VoiceOfEU.com
— For Anonymous News Submissions: press@VoiceOfEU.com


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