U-turnon PSCs for farm­ers who ap­ply on­line

Irish Independent - - News - Cor­mac McQuinn

THE Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture did a ‘U-turn’ over whether or not con­tro­ver­sial Pub­lic Ser­vices Cards (PSCs) could be used by farm­ers to ac­cess their on­line ser­vices.

Of­fi­cials orig­i­nally held the view that the cards were “not suit­able” as a means of au­then­ti­cat­ing the iden­tity of the users of its Ag­food.ie ser­vice, which in­cludes a fa­cil­ity to ap­ply for farm pay­ments.

Records re­leased to the Ir­ish In­de­pen­dent show that they be­lieved in 2015 that adding the PSC in­fras­truc­ture would “add an ex­tra layer” to the ex­ist­ing au­then­ti­ca­tion meth­ods which “is not needed”. How­ever, by this year the depart­ment had com­mit­ted to us­ing the PSC’s on­line por­tal MyGovID as a way of Ag­food.ie users log­ging in.

MyGovID re­quires users to hold a PSC to reg­is­ter for a full, ver­i­fied ac­count.

Mean­while, other doc­u­ments show that the depart­ment is to in­ves­ti­gate the po­ten­tial use of PSCs via a “swipe mech­a­nism” in of­fices by peo­ple who wish to ac­cess agri­cul­ture records.

Con­tro­versy has arisen sur­round­ing the cards over their con­tin­u­ing roll-out to more ser­vices pro­vided by the State. The Ir­ish In­de­pen­dent re­vealed yes­ter­day that PSCs will be re­quired for Rev­enue’s on­line ser­vices for pay­ing taxes and that use of MyGovID is be­ing con­sid­ered as part of an on­line voter regis­tra­tion sys­tem. Crit­ics have ar­gued the PSC project amounts to the in­tro­duc­tion of a na­tional ID card by stealth.

Suit­able

The records re­leased un­der a free­dom of in­for­ma­tion re­quest in­clude a 2015 sur­vey of Gov­ern­ment ser­vices that re­quire the use of phys­i­cal cards, iden­tity ver­i­fi­ca­tion or on­line au­then­ti­ca­tion. The Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s com­pleted form says that the PSC is “not suit­able” for use by in­di­vid­u­als. The rea­son given was that the depart­ment’s own au­then­ti­ca­tion pro­ce­dures would still be nec­es­sary.

How­ever, this year the depart­ment com­mit­ted to us­ing the PSC’s on­line coun­ter­part, MyGovID, as a means of ac­cess­ing the ser­vices at Ag­food.ie in Septem­ber 2018 as part of the eGovern­ment Strat­egy.

Last night, the depart­ment said that the 2015 sur­vey was an “early doc­u­ment” which ex­am­ined the tech­ni­cal is­sues around the use of MyGovID.

Asked if the depart­ment could con­firm that all farm­ers won’t ul­ti­mately re­quire a PSC to ac­cess Ag­food.ie in fu­ture, a state­ment said that MyGovID is to be in­tro­duced as an op­tional way of ac­cess­ing the web­site from Septem­ber next year.

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