The Social Democrats have reacted with dismay to the news that the Government will legally challenge the findings of the Data Protection Commissioner’s report pertaining to the Public Services Card (PSC).

The Government are planning to use the courts to defend the continued use of the card and have refused to publish the report as requested by the Data Protection Commissioner.

The report by the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) Helen Dixon is a vindication of the concerns of citizens, data protection experts and opposition politicians that have over the past number of years repeatedly questioned the validity of the PSC project.

Serious concerns around the legal basis and transparency of the card are laid bare in the DPC’s report.

The PSC project lead by the Department of Social Protection and fully supported by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform by way of policy development and resources, right from the very outset lacked the basic components to deliver a credible, acceptable and viable end product.

The absence of any single business case document for the PSC is utterly inexcusable. There was no documentation setting out at a high level precisely what information needed to be collected, how it would be stored, the very justification of the card, funding, roles and responsibilities relating to the project. A chasm of procedure and governance existed around the PSC.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy TD said:

“The serious concerns surrounding the Public Services Card kicked off an investigation by the Data Protection Commissioner to assess the legal basis for the processing of data in connection with the PSC and other related matters in October 2017.

“The PSC’s evolution over time has prompted enormous concerns regarding the legality of it and the way in which it appears to have been imposed on citizens. The range of data embedded to the card is startling.

“Moreover, the use of biometric technology further broadens the capabilities of the PSC to an alarming degree.The Data Protection Commissioner made eight findings in her report, all of which are serious in nature but what really jumps out from all of them is, the State is acting in an unlawful manner, simply put, it is breaking the law.

“Multiple Ministers and senior civil servants have stood over this project for over a decade and it now appears that they are hostage to it. The State now plans to challenge the findings of the office of Data Protection Commissioner at further expense to citizens, this is a serious undermining of the independence and autonomy of that office.”

ENDS

3rd September 2019

Notes to Editors:

PQ replies to Deputy Catherine Murphy on the PSC here.