U-turnon PSCs for farmers who apply online
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.
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.