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French watchdog unveils conditions of use for new digital health insurance ID

French watchdog unveils conditions of use for new digital health insurance ID

France’s CNIL (Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés) has set out the conditions of use for the newest, virtual generation of the country’s health insurance card (Carte Vitale). For this period, biometrics are only used to verify its activation.

Writing in a blog post (in French) last week, the CNIL says it has been piloting the “e-carte Vitale” since 2019, with four regions testing it that year and six more since then. Now, the commission is setting out conditions of use for the new digital health ID.

The first of them is that users must be able to receive support in installing and using the app at their local health insurance office (caisse d’assurance maladie).

The CNIL also specifies that the new digital credential infrastructure is scheduled to be offered to all insured citizens by the end of 2025 via a dedicated app that will replace the traditional plastic card. The commission adds that the traditional Carte Vitale will still be available for a time, and the transition to the digital version of it is not mandatory.

In terms of features, the e-carte Vitale app will enable users to identify themselves to access digital health services, as well as “consult their rights, download documents needed for treatment and track reimbursements.”

The CNIL also shares new information about the identification process. The Commission says citizens will be able to use their Social Security Codes and the e-carte Vitale in one of two ways. The first is to use the Digital Identity Guarantee Service (SGIN) mobile app, and the second is to use face biometrics.

However, the Commission also clarifies that the e-carte Vitale does not store biometrics. It only requires biometric authentication upon activation, as one route for activation, not when medical care or hospitalization occurs.

“This distinguishes it from the biometric Vitale map project, which is the subject of discussion in Parliament,” the CNIL writes. The latter project is set to cost the French parliament €20 million (roughly US$21.2 million).

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