Fianna Fáil calls for publication of report on Public Services Card

DPC says it is not open to publish report ‘without prior agreement of the Department’

The State has been told it must delete data held on 3.2 million citizens as part of the roll-out of the Public Services Card, as there is no lawful basis for retaining it. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The State has been told it must delete data held on 3.2 million citizens as part of the roll-out of the Public Services Card, as there is no lawful basis for retaining it. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Fianna Fáil has called for the immediate publication of the full report from the Data Protection Commissioner on the Public Services Card.

Cavan-Monaghan TD Niamh Smyth said many questions remain unanswered such as what legal advice the Minister for Employment and Social Protection Regina Doherty was given on the card and what was the Attorney General’s opinion.

The State has been told it must delete data held on 3.2 million citizens, which was gathered as part of the roll-out of the Public Services Card, as there is no lawful basis for retaining it.

In a highly critical report on its investigation into the card, the Data Protection Commission found there was no legal reason to make individuals obtain the card in order to access State services such as renewing a driving licence or applying for a college grant.

Ms Smyth asked what was the cost to the State and the taxpayer for the production of a card that had no legal status.

She told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Friday that the fact the data of three million people now has to be deleted demonstrates the gravity of the mistake. Ms Smyth said that Fianna Fáil welcomed the Data Protection Commissioner’s report and wanted its immediate publication so it could be forensically examined.

Prior agreement

The Data Protection Commissioner has said in a statement on Friday it is not open to publish the report under applicable laws “without the prior agreement of the Department”.

“The DPC has written to the Department asking it to confirm, within a period of seven days, that it will either publish the Report on its own website or, alternatively, that it will agree to the publication of the Report on the Commission’s website. The Department’s response is awaited,” it said.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) also said it welcomed the Data Protection Commissioner’s “next steps and enforcement plans, which require an immediate halt to the processing of personal data carried out in connection with the Public Service Card”.

Elizabeth Farries, information rights programmer at ICCL said it supports the “immediacy” of the Data Protection Commissioner’s enforcement measures.

“They are appropriate given that the card lacks a legal basis, is unnecessary, and presents serious risks to the highly sensitive personal data it collects,” she said.

“The DPS findings are a disaster of the government’s own making. For years, ICCL has urged government to cease the roll out of the PSC due to human rights concerns, and pending the conclusions of this very investigation.”