ICCL has been fighting the roll-out of this card for years.
Recently, the Data Protection Commissioner found that there was no legal basis for demanding the card for many of the public services for which it’s now mandatory. They said that only the Department of Social Protection can legally use the card, and even then only for certain services. However, until the Department releases the full DPC report, we have no way of knowing which services can legally use the card.
The DPC also ordered that all government departments stop using the card by 5th September. AND they ordered the Department of Social Protection to delete all data not relevant to the provision of services.
Our calls are clear: Release the Report. Delete Our Data. Cut the Card!
But what’s the problem with the card?
- Your biometric information (photo) is stored alongside crucial identifying information (your name and signature) in a database. Databases, by their nature, are insecure and the government has not published the security protocols in place on this one. Therefore, your identity could be vulnerable to theft.
- The card targets economically vulnerable people, such as those in receipt of social welfare, pension, child benefit or State grants. However, the government has explicitly stated that it intends to use the PSC for services such as health and legal services. Eventually, everyone may be obliged to get one.
- It has cost an estimated €60 million to roll out, with savings of only €2.5million in welfare fraud, according to the Department of Social Welfare.
So, in time, you could be forced to store intimate personal data in this database which would be vulnerable to attack. The government has continued to roll-out the Public Services Card despite these problems.
Read more about the myriad of problems with the PSC.
Read about why your right to privacy is so important.
Sign the petition to stop the Public Services Card by clicking here
But isn’t it also much more convenient?
Convenience is not an excuse for the government to violate your right to privacy.
Government should facilitate you accessing essential services, not force you to hand over biometric data in order to access them.
What about preventing welfare fraud?
Actually, welfare fraud is far less common than the State would like you to believe. White-collar crime robs the taxpayer of much more every year.
And there are better, less invasive ways to achieve this aim.
In any case, it doesn’t appear the card is saving the state money in this regard.
In summary, the PSC should not be continued in its current form given that:
(a) it has no clear legislative basis;
(b) it is not a necessary or proportionate system for achieving access of services or fraud prevention; and
(c) there is a serious risk that your personal, intimate data could be hacked, leaked and sold.
Please support our campaign to stop the Public Services Card by clicking here.
Timeline: ICCL’s campaign to stop the PSC
July 2019: UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty address Dublin audience about the PSC
Read about it: UN poverty expert hits out at Public Services Card
June 2019: Read our submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty here.
The Special Rapporteur will use this information for his next thematic report to the UN Human Rights Council, which will focus on digital surveillance in social welfare systems.
January 2019: Dept of Social Protection refuses FOI request regarding Public Services Card
We put in a request for all information regarding the Data Protection Commissioner’s investigation into the legal basis for the public services card under the Freedom of Information Act, and they refused to share it with us, on the grounds that it might be “contrary to the public interest”. Not only that, but it seems that the DPC, when it does eventually publish its report, only intends to publish a summary.
October 2018: Our resident privacy expert, Elizabeth Farries, speaks about the problem with the PSC
Watch the video here
April 2018: We pushed back when the government tried to make a PSC a requirement for getting a driver’s license.
The government has since had to stall the roll-out of PSC for your driver’s license. Read our statement here.
February 2018: ICCL tells the Oireachtas why the PSC is worrisome.
We presented our concerns about the Public Services Card to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection on 8 February 2018. Read the report here.
October 2017: We held a public meeting in October 2017 to discuss privacy issues in relation to the PSC.
We can’t keep fighting the Public Services Card without support. Click here to join us.