The Department of Social Protection’s rejection of the recent highly critical findings of the Data Protection Commissioner regarding the Public Services Card has been struck a perhaps fatal blow with the news that the Commissioner will not be engaging further with them.
Minister Regina Doherty had said that, on the back of “incredibly strong legal advice” which her department had received, she would be challenging the DPC’s findings, calling upon her to suspend all processing of data using the PSC within three weeks.
Ms Doherty said she would seek a meeting with the Commissioner in order to allay her concerns regarding the card. That request has now been firmly rebuffed by the DPC.
“I can confirm that we have this evening replied to the Department of Social Protection’s communication to us received on Tuesday evening,” a spokesperson for the DPC said.
“We have confirmed that we will not be meeting with the Department and have once again called on the Minister to publish the Commissioner’s report immediately in the public interest,” they added.
The Minister committed this week to publishing the highly contentious report once further engagement with the Commissioner has been established. Whether or not she will now publish is not yet known.
The DPC's findings admonish Social Protection for its lack of transparency in administering the card project and order it to delete 3.2 million historical records which it holds on cardholders. If the Department continues to reject these findings, the DPC will issue an enforcement notice.
When that notice might be issued is not clear. Should Social Protection continue with its non-compliance then the DPC would most likely take legal action against the Department.
The Department would have the option of appealing the enforcement notice, and would have 21 days to do so from when it is issued.