Department refutes claims state could be in breach of data laws on Public Services Card

Department refutes claims state could be in breach of data laws on Public Services Card

Update 7.30pm: A legal expert has warned the state could be liable to pay compensation to the three million people who have a Public Services Card.

Simon McGarr from Data Compliance Europe told an Oireachtas Committee earlier that the government may be in breach of new EU data protection laws if it continues to expand terms of the PSC.

"I consider the collection and sharing of this database without a proper legal basis as one of the major financial risks that the state has voluntarily taken on in recent years."

Later this year people will need a Public Services Card to get a drivers licence or passport, as well as social welfare payments.

Liam Herrick from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties says he also has grave concerns.

"Whether you are for it or against it, it has to be lawful and ... there is a significant doubt in our mind ... that there isn't an adequate legislative basis for what is being done."

Liam Herrick
Liam Herrick

Responding tonight the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) said it did not accept Mr. McGarr’s contention.

In a statement they said: "The Department is satisfied that there is a comprehensive legal basis in place for registering people’s identity and for the sharing of that identity data with specified public bodies.

"The Department has already published detailed information on these matters in its comprehensive Guide to SAFE and the Public Services Card, and specifically addresses the legal issues in Questions 14, 18, 19 and 20.

"For the most part, a SAFE registration is used to verify identity information the public service already has. A Public Services Card may then be issued as a physical token of proof of having successfully completed that identity verification.

"Detailed information regarding the legislative basis underpinning the SAFE 2 registration process and the PSC is available in the Department’s ‘Comprehensive Guide to SAFE registration and the Public Services Card’ Q&A, published in October 2017 which is published on our website

Earlier: Public Services Card may breach EU data protection law, committee hears

The government may be in breach of EU data protection law over the Public Services Card.

That's according to a solicitor who gave evidence to an Oireachtas committee earlier.

He says the state could have to pay compensation to the three million people who have the card if they continue to expand the amount of services it's required for.

Solicitor Simon McGarr told the committee the project should be re-assessed.

"I consider the collection and sharing of this database without a proper legal basis as one of the major financial risks that the state has voluntarily taken on in recent years."

- Digital Desk

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