|IT IS “technically possible” that fingerprinting could be added to the public services card in future if the card’s current anti-fraud features prove ineffective, the assistant secretary of the Department of Social Protection has said.
Speaking to the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education yesterday, Niall Barry said while it was possible to include fingerprints on the biometric card, currently being rolled out to social welfare recipients nationwide, it would create too much of a burden on local offices.
“Adding fingerprints to [the] mix just at the moment when we’re trying to do a lot of stuff with the national employment and entitlements service would be an extra burden on local offices and, to be quite honest, they are completely stretched at the moment.
“It’s technically possible, the card could even hold fingerprints if that’s what you wanted to do, but putting systems in place and checking would be a considerable piece of work,” he said.
“I would certainly prefer to go with our current programme and, if that’s not delivering the goods, to add that sort of feature to it.”
He said the cards currently held biometric information, including a photograph that met the standards of the Civil Aviation Authority: “We’ve also invested in software which, behind the scenes, checks photographs one against the other,” Mr Barry said.
The delivery of the public services card, currently used by 6,000 social welfare claimants, is to be “significantly ramped up” in 2012 following the provision of resources from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
It is envisaged the microchipped card will eventually be used by public bodies to identify an individual at points of service and to provide online services.
Mr Barry said there had been a lot of adverse comment that the system was not “talking with” with other Government agency systems such as that of the Revenue Commissioners, but said “nothing could be further from the truth”, and that it exchanged electronic information with 89 agencies.
Departments were working towards a national database “where various agencies take the lead in their expertise and share that with other departments”.
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