The Government is to launch a €200,000 radio and online advertising campaign to promote the public services card and to address concerns reported in the media in recent months.
The Department of Public Expenditure and the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer are seeking tenders for a media strategy and creative campaign to encourage uptake of the card, particularly among young people and men of working age.
The department said it expected the campaign to start in November.
A briefing document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act says one of the primary aims of the campaign is to grow the take-up of the card and registrations for the associated online service MyGovID.
Some 2.8 million cards have been issued since 2011 and the Government expects to have 3 million issued by the end of the year. Privacy campaigners have expressed concerns that the card has been introduced without any public discussion and that it amounts to a national identity card “by stealth”.
However, the Government says the card was introduced to facilitate ease of access to public services, that it helps providers to identify their customers to the highest level of assurance, and that it helps prevent fraud.
Among the primary aims for the media campaign is the creation of public awareness of the card and the MyGovID online service, which allows people to register for a “digital identity”.
It also aims to inform people how to register and to “emphasise the benefits of the PSC/MyGovID in opening of government services and closing off avenues of fraud”.
The campaign also aims to build a “positive view” of the card as an “enabler” to individuals in gaining access to public services more efficiently, “while at the same time preserving their privacy to the maximum extent”.
“The message around the PSC/MyGovID needs to address the concerns in media regarding the PSC as a national ID card,” the briefing document for the campaign says.
It also aims to target certain demographics where PSC coverage is low.
The document also says the campaign will aim "to demonstrate Ireland as an emerging leader in e-government".
The target audience for the campaign includes the “large demographics” that have yet to be reached by the card, such as young people and people of working age, “particularly males”.
“These cohorts need to be specifically targeted regarding the PSC,” the document says.
The document notes that in June there was “a significant amount of media coverage surrounding the PSC, much of it negative and surrounding whether the card was a ‘national ID card’”.
“This coverage (albeit negative) helped to increase awareness of the PSC, however it failed to mention the benefits of the PSC. The message around the PSC/MyGovID would need to address the benefits whilst also addressing the concerns in media regarding the PSC as a national ID card.”
On Friday, the Department of Social Protection published two documents with questions and answers about the card and its associated projects, in response to concerns raised by the Data Protection Commissioner. The commissioner's office said it welcomed the clarity provided on some issues, but it confirmed it had also informed the department it will undertake a formal investigation into the card and related systems, to see whether they fully comply with the law.