Massachusetts considers biometrics, fingerprinting to reduce fraud in public benefit programs

A new budget amendment passed by the House proposes that the Massachusetts State’s welfare office be required to study the feasibility of implementing a “biometric authentication system”, according to a report by Mass Live.

The bill states that the Department of Transitional Assistance and the Office of Health and Human Services must study the feasibility of using biometrics, including fingerprints, to lower cases of fraud in public benefit programs.

The clause is part of a $15.4 million amendment drafted by the House Committee on Ways and Means, which saw a House majority vote of 158-0 on Tuesday afternoon.

House Minority Leader Brad Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) proposed budgetary language on the biometrics study, which was written into the consolidated amendment.

Jones’ office said that fingerprinting has saved the government millions in state and county dollars across the nation, while both Texas and New Jersey currently have contracts in place for biometric pilot programs.

Fingerprinting welfare recipients will likely be a controversial proposal for the same privacy rights advocates who protested against photo ID on electronic benefit cards in the past.

The full bill can be read here.

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