From top: Public Services Card; privacy statement regarding the PSC which was changed overnight; former Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty
Cianan Brennan, of the Irish Examiner, is reporting that the department of former Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty has “changed its privacy statement overnight” regarding the Public Services Card.
The department is now stating (above) that biometric processing does occur as part of the Public Services Card database despite repeatedly denying that was the case.
It follows Ms Doherty losing her seat in Meath West at the weekend.
During a debate about the card last month on Virgin Media One’s Tonight show, Ms Doherty and Executive Director of Irish Council for Civil Liberties Liam Herrick had this exchange about the card…
Liam Herrick: “I think the Public Services Card is fundamentally flawed and it’s not just the reports we’ve had up to now. There’s ongoing investigations into the biometric nature of the card. Bizarrely, the Government is saying the card isn’t a biometric card…”
Matt Cooper: “Sorry, explain, what does that mean?”
Herrick: “It means that it’s processing biological information – in this case, a high-resolution photograph which can be processed and, using facial recognition technology, match against a database…”
Ivan Yates: “Ah here.” [puts head in right hand].
Cooper: “You love that type of stuff, don’t you?” [to Yates].
Yates: “Give us a break, Liam. The fact of the matter is if I produce my driver’s licence, it has my photograph on it. My passport, like don’t make it sound like Big Brother, oh my god, my privacy has been breached because of a photograph.”
Herrick: “I’m actually telling you what’s, the scientific description that was on the Government’s tender document that went out in the first place. And the company that makes the cards was originally called Biometric Card Services. And now the Government is denying it’s a biometric system. There’s another investigation…”
Yates: “It’s a photograph. Let’s call it what it is.”
Regina Doherty: “It is a simple photograph. It’s exactly the same photograph that’s on your driving licence, it’s on your passport, it’s no different…”
Herrick: “It’s part of a database that’s shared across all Government departments.”
Herrick: “In the lead up to the election, whoever that’s going to be, we’ll be calling on all political parties to make a commitment not to dig ourselves into this any deeper and to step back.
“If we’re concerned about identity systems. Let’s start by reviewing what we already have. The passport and the driver’s licence work perfectly effectively in proving people’s identity. This is a project that’s just got out of control.”
Doherty: “Oh. My. God.”
Herrick: “And it’s a real shame that the Government is compounding, you know, mistakes, misrepresentations on top of each other at this stage and compounding it with legal fees on top of the money that’s been wasted.”
Previously: “It’s A Photograph. Let’s Call It What It Is”