Data protection watchdog launches new inquiry into Public Services Card

Role of Department of Public Expenditure in processing database to be examined

The State’s data protection watchdog previously found the basis for forcing users to obtain the card to access some public services was unlawful. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The State’s data protection watchdog previously found the basis for forcing users to obtain the card to access some public services was unlawful. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

The data protection commissioner has opened a new investigation examining aspects of the Public Services Card (PSC), a form of identification which is required to access a range of services.

The State’s data protection watchdog previously found the basis for forcing users to obtain the card to access some public services was unlawful, and the functioning of the card was not sufficiently transparent.

The Department of Employment Affairs has challenged the findings of the commissioner’s highly critical investigation into the controversial PSC in the courts.

The rollout and expansion in the use of the card in recent years has been strongly criticised by data privacy campaigners.

The data protection commission has now launched a further investigation to examine the role of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in processing a database linked to the card.

Graham Doyle, deputy data protection commissioner, said it had received a complaint regarding the alleged processing by the department of the database “underpinning” the PSC.

The new inquiry will focus on the use of the Public Service Identity dataset, and other systems linked to the PSC, such as Single Customer View and MyGovID.

Mr Doyle said the commission will examine the role of the department “in any processing activities undertaken via” Single Customer View and MyGovID, and the extent to which the department “complies with any obligations it may have for this processing under the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018”.

The complaint was instigated by data privacy group Digital Rights Ireland.