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French parliament approves €20M project for biometric health card

French parliament approves €20M project for biometric health card

The French parliament (Assemblée Nationale) has voted for a new €20 million (roughly US$20.4 million) project 242-95 to establish a biometric version of citizens’ health cards (Carte Vitale), Libération reports.

Part of the French package of financial aid for the cost-of-living crisis, the project would see the creation of a biometric Carte Vitale featuring a chip containing the physical characteristics of the insured, such as fingerprints.

Linked to the patient’s bank account, the biometric card would then help healthcare providers identify individuals while also helping the government fight against fraudsters.

“I voted last night for a biometric vital card against social fraud.” Sen. Stéphane Le Rudulier wrote on Twitter Wednesday.

“There are 7 million more Carte Vitale in France than the number of inhabitants! It is the most massive social fraud scheme [in the country]. It costs billions every year.”

A similar project was proposed and rejected by the French parliament two years ago. It was now made a “condition” of support by right-wing senators for the financial aid package, according to Libération.

The proposal was subsequently approved by the Assemblée Nationale on Thursday as part of a draft amending the nation’s budget for 2022.

At the same time, the opposition claims the implementation of the tool would be expensive and time-consuming for the government, as it would involve the replacement of roughly 65 million cards nationwide, the purchase of biometric scanners, and biometric fingerprint capture of all card owners.

Additionally, left-wing politicians warned how the project would inevitably require the establishment of a centralized biometric database, which if not properly secured may constitute an alluring target to cybercriminals.

According to Sen. LR Philippe Mouiller, the scheme could be launched this fall, but there is no information at deadline on how the project would be executed.

The regulation of biometric technologies in France is often a hot topic in the country. In May, for instance, France pushed the EU Council to formalize the extension of the police biometrics data-sharing network.

More recently, the mayor of Nice called for the deployment of facial recognition technologies following clashes at the Stade de France.

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