Fingerprints won’t be stored on the new Digital ID and National Identification Card, the minister responsible for introducing the new identification technology made clear on Friday.
In a bid to answer questions about the storing of fingerprints on the highly anticipated identification cards, Senator Kay McConney, Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology, explained that giving a scan of a cardholder’s fingerprint is optional at registration for the card. The fingerprint would be encrypted for later verification when the holder returns to collect the card.
“When you go back to have yourself verified through using the fingerprint, again they take the scan, but it is scrambled and it is scrambled to scramble that is compared, never the original. And through that technology, we have no way of reconstructing the original,” she said.
“In the first place, we do not need your fingerprints in order to authenticate. So they are not necessary at all. They came into play because when we had our consultations with persons with disabilities many of them who cannot write for various reasons were unable to sign and they asked whether or not there would be an alternative. And so it is not this Government’s policy because we do not need them.”
The minister stressed that the decision was being left to cardholders on whether they want to give their fingerprint, and noted that the opting approach was being used.
Senator McConney said: “I am hoping that we have cleared up the matter on fingerprints. One it is not required. Two, if you choose to, opt in to do it. And once you do opt-in, we use a hashed; your original fingerprint isn’t stored anywhere in the system. There are others who have raised questions about biometrics, things like facial recognition.
“Our Smart Card will not be using any biometric other than your photograph for facial recognition which is the same thing that exists on your passport, it exists on your current ID form, it exists already on your driver’s licence so we are introducing nothing new.
Senator McConney also indicated that a citizen’s health information would also not be stored on the new identification card. She said at present there is no direct linkage to medical information and noted that when it becomes possible for that link to be made at a later stage, it will be done with the proper safeguards in place.
She told the Senate: “I cannot go into that right now because we have not yet started to work on that aspect of it. But it is important and I think it is necessary for me to say no, your medical information would not be on it. And it will likely be something that is accessible from a different database.