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Controversy dogs biometric data processing for Ireland’s public service card function

Controversy dogs biometric data processing for Ireland’s public service card function

A parliamentary inquiry has prompted Ireland’s Department of Social Protection (DSP) to confirm that the processing of biometric data has been part of the functioning of the public service card (PSC) since it was introduced in 2011.

However, the DSP says the biometric data concerned is not stored on the card itself or shared with any third party, in keeping with GDPR regulations, reports Irish Examiner. It adds that the data is processed thanks to its “secure IT infrastructure.”

The DSP disclosed this information when the Social Democrats party leader and member of the lower house of Ireland’s parliament Catherine Murphy raised concerns regarding a recent tender for the use of facial recognition for some aspects of the PSC.

This development comes at a time when a report by the Data Protection Commissioner on whether the PSC system stores or shares biometric data is yet to be released as part of an investigation which started in 2017.

“The processing of personal data includes the creation and processing of biometric data from a photograph of the person concerned, to enable a check to be carried out as to whether the facial image matches an image already held,” says the Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys in response to Murphy’s query.

The Minister explained that the data processing as part of the PSC registration process is meant to eliminate fraud because the system cannot authenticate anyone who has already been authenticated under a different identity.

There have been criticisms and legal challenges against the PSC in the past including findings by the Data Protection Commission that the use of the card was illegal except for the purposes of welfare payments.

Early this month, Irish opposition politicians voiced concerns against plans by Justice Minister Simon Harris to rush legislation to allow police use of facial recognition via body cams.

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