The public services card fiasco


A chara, – The recent report from the Data Protection Commission reveals the Government’s plans to expand the public services cards’ use had no legal basis and it could well prove to be the most needless and expensive administrative error the State has ever incurred (Front page, August 16th).

Not only should an explanation be given for what is a basic error, but the Department of Social Protection should be punished accordingly. Given the scale of the issue, I believe it is not only mandatory but compulsory as well. – Is mise,


Athlone, Co Westmeath.

Sir, – The idea behind the Public Services Card – to make access to State services easier, more efficient and more secure – is surely a good one.

In this connected age, where we trust many private sector organisations with our personal data, it is dispiriting that the authors of GDPR regard the holding of personal data by democratic States as representing a threat to our freedoms.

I appreciate fully, however, the recent history of Europe and the fears of many about the disproportionate impact of totalitarian governments on the rights and liberties of the individual, through abuse of personal data.

The solution is simple. Store the personal data on the card and not in some vast Government database.

The data remains under the control of the individual and is accessed by the State services simply to verify that the person is who he or she claims to be and is, therefore, entitled to the service being sought. There is no holding of data by the State in this particular circumstance, or the sharing of that data across different arms of Government. – Yours, etc,


Shankill, Dublin 18.

Sir, – Is there any chance that those claiming vindication in the findings of the DPC report on Public Services Card (PSC) might focus their attention on the protection of citizens who voluntarily surrender every aspect of their personal information to social media organisations without any personal benefit?

PSC is an essential tool of e-government and usually results in positive outcomes and financial benefit for citizens.

For too long, we have paid the price for lack of joined up administration and services. GDPR gives us the right to be forgotten but not the right to be invisible. – Yours, etc,


Glasnevin, Dublin 9.

Sir, – I have on several occasions expressed in the media reservations about the PSC.

My concerns tended to focus on the fact the that the card was identical in appearance to the identity cards widely used in the European Community.

I am surprised and quite frankly shocked to learn that government departments have been demanding its use without any legal basis.

What sort of government enacts a law and then allows its own departments to act ultra vires while still robustly defending those departments?

This ruling does not deal with my initial concerns directly but the fact that millions of pieces of information must be deleted does go a long way in ruling out its possible use as an identity card.

Somehow I feel vindicated in my reservations – for the wrong reasons perhaps, but vindicated nevertheless. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8

Sir, – When governments erode the rights of the citizen and the individual is unable to take action, the existence of a group such as the Irish Council for Civil Liberties is very important. Our thanks are due to ICCL for their persistent opposition to the public service card and its potential use against the privacy of the citizen. – Yours, etc,


Mount Merrion,

Co Dublin.