‘Augmented identity’ firm gets €9m contract for public services cards

Biometric Card Services is renamed as Security Card Concepts ahead of production

The new contract to print up to two million public services cards has been awarded to Security Card Concepts Ltd.

The new contract to print up to two million public services cards has been awarded to Security Card Concepts Ltd.

 

A contract worth more than €9 million to print up to two million public services cards has been awarded to Security Card Concepts Ltd, which was called Biometric Card Services Ltd a month ago.

The name change follows assurances from the Department of Social Protection that it does not process any biometric data, which includes unique identifying features of a person, such as their image or their fingerprints.

Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty has repeatedly said – including in the Dáil in May – that the department “does not ask for or collect biometric data from its customers such as fingerprints, retinal scans or any other items that could be listed as biometric data”.

Details of the new contract, published on the eTenders website on Thursday, reveal the €9.41 million contract for the cards was awarded to DLRS Ltd, a company owned by Smurfit Kappa, and Idemia, formerly known as Morpho.

The consortium is trading as Security Card Concepts.

Idemia, the Dutch company, says it offers services including “augmented identity” products that rely on “the most physical, natural and authentic verification: the body’s own biometric data”.

“Your identity can be verified with a simple glance or the tap of a finger – which means that your identity cannot be stolen, imitated, jeopardised or corrupted,” it says on its website.

More than three million public services cards have been issued in the State since 2011 and the PSC project has been criticised by privacy advocates and civil liberties bodies as constituting a national ID card “by stealth”. The department insists the card is not a national identity card.

Biometric Card Services, which held the recently-expired contract to produce the cards, was also a consortium formed by Bray, Co Wicklow-based DLRS and Morpho, now known as Idemia.

Company records show it last month changed its name to Security Card Concepts Ltd and also appointed Isabelle Lauzon, a vice-president with Idemia, as a director.

While the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has previously insisted it does not process biometric data, its new privacy policy, admits that “at times” the data it may collect includes “data concerning health and biometric data used for the purpose of identification and at times, information concerning trade union membership”.

“We acknowledge that we can also collect, indirectly, data in relation to the religious beliefs and sexual orientation of our customers,” it says.

More than €60 million has been spent on the card project to date. As of October 2016, the department said savings of €1.58 million due to alleged fraud had been made due to the card.

The value of the new contract is based on the production of two million cards, but may be more or less depending on demand for them.