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Hashtag Trending Feb. 9 – IRS scraps facial recognition; 2FA works; the costly Huawei gear rip and replace

The Internal Revenue Agency stops requiring selfies to register for an account, Google cuts account hacking by half with two-factor authentication, and the reimbursement cost for replacing Huawei gear is higher than expected.

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That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending. It’s Wednesday, February 9th, and I’m your host, Samira Balsara.

The U.S. Internal Revenue Agency (IRS) has dropped facial recognition as a verification requirement to users. Thus far, the IRS has asked its users to upload video selfies when creating a new IRS account. The account, called ID.me, needs facial recognition not just to file taxes, but also to check for account information and apply for payment plans online. Privacy watchdogs and advocates highlighted the issues surrounding the system. They criticized it for forcing people to upload biometric data online and the controversies of its underlying recognition technology powered by Amazon. According to Bloomberg, this was a costly system, too. Last year, the U.S.Treasury Department signed a $86 million contract to deploy and maintain the ID.me software.

Google account hacks dropped by half after pushing two-step authentication by default from technology

Yesterday was Safer Internet Day and to celebrate, Google highlighted the successes of two-factor authentication. The company revealed that by enabling 2FA, Google account hacks have dropped by half. Last year, the company turned on 2FA for 150 million Google users and required it for 2 million YouTube creators. Now, Google says that it saw a 50 per cent decrease in compromised accounts in that user test group. Still, two-factor authentication adoption and support remains low. According to The Verge, only 2.3 per cent of active Twitter accounts have it enabled in 2020. For Facebook, it was around 4 per cent. Google continues to urge users to use 2FA wherever possible as it works towards a passwordless future.

US carriers ask the FCC for $5.6 billion to replace Huawei and ZTE equipment from technology

U.S. carriers have asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a hefty reimbursement for replacing their Huawei gear. According to Engadget, an FCC spokesperson said the carriers have requested approximately $5.6 billion in reimbursement. The carriers had to replace all their Huawei telecom equipment after the U.S. government deemed it as a security threat. To indemnify the rebuy cost, the FCC established a program to reimburse smaller telcos, setting aside $1.9 billion. Clearly, that sum was nowhere near enough. FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted that the commission will be working with Congress to ensure that there’s enough funding.

Meta establishes four-foot “personal boundary” to deter VR groping from technology

Now for something a bit different. As the metaverse promises a more immersive, interactive web, so arise new issues and challenges. For example, to combat virtual groping, Meta has set up a 4-foot personal space for VR avatars. Each avatar in its Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues spaces now has a 2-foot personal boundary by default. This isn’t the only measure Meta has for ensuring personal space. The metaverse spaces also already have a  system that causes an avatar’s hands to vanish when they reach inside the personal boundaries of another.

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash briefings or your Google Home daily briefing. Make sure to sign up for our Daily IT Wire newsletter to get all the news that matters directly in your inbox every day. Also, catch the next episode of Hashtag Tendances, our weekly Hashtag Trending episode in French, which drops every Friday at 3 pm. If you have a suggestion or a tip, drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thank you for listening, I’m Samira Balsara.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Samira Balsara
Samira Balsara
Samira is a writer for IT World Canada. She is currently pursuing a journalism degree at Toronto Metropolitan University (formally known as Ryerson) and hopes to become a news anchor or write journalistic profiles. You can email her at sbalsara@itwc.ca

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