· The Government has announced that from 9 April all applications for new or renewed drivers licences will require you to have a Public Service Card – it is the only form of ID that will be accepted during the application process. This means you will have to apply for a Public Services Card before you separately go to renew your Drivers Licence.
· This is an interference with your privacy. The right to privacy is not an absolute right – but if the State seeks to interfere with your privacy rights, it must justify that interference:
o It must prove that there is a legal basis for that interference – in this case it has not done so. In fact the Data Protection Commissioner is currently conducting an investigation into the legal basis for the whole Public Service Card Scheme.
o It must prove that this interference with your rights is necessary and proportionate. There is no evidence that there is any problem of fraud or personation with respect to the driving licence system. No case has been made that there are any security benefits to you or to the public from requiring the PSC for licence applications, or that there is anything wrong with using existing drivers licences or passports to prove your identity
o It must prove that forcing you to provide personal data to a national database is safe. Again, legitimate questions arise about the dangers of single national database containing personal data that outweighs any purported benefits.
· The Government says that the PSC is “mandatory but not compulsory”. From 9 April, you will need a PSC to get social protection payments, state pension payments or a drivers licence – and from later this year, a passport. In any terms, that is a mandatory and compulsory system.
If you’d like to receive information about ICCL’s actions on the public services card, and our associated work on the right to privacy, just drop a line to email@example.com with “Right to Privacy” in the subject line.