The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has updated its key data protection policy with regard to the Public Services Card on foot of a negative report regarding the card carried out by the Data Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs was advised by a data protection consultancy not to use the Public Services Card as a mandatory requirement for accessing the new National Childcare Scheme as to do so would risk breaching the constitutional rights of children.
A stormy meeting on the controversial Public Services Card this morning saw Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty say her department would take their objection to accusations of illegality levelled at the card “as far as it takes to vindicate our position”.
The Data Protection Commissioner has said she does not have enough resources to regulate multinational companies based in Ireland such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter having secured ‘significantly less’ Government funding than she had requested.
The head of the department with primary responsibility for the Public Services Card project has agreed that it would have been “preferable” if a full business case had been prepared for it at its inception.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection did not share the interim adversarial findings of the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) regarding the Public Services Card (PSC) with any affected bodies apart from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. This was despite being specifically asked and in a position to do so.
Transport Minister Shane Ross has denied he received any advice from the Attorney General before deciding to pull the Public Services Card (PSC) as a requirement for getting a driving licence, despite saying the opposite on the Dáil record last year.
The Public Services Card will be the only way for parents to claim childcare benefits from late October, despite the Taoiseach claiming that “an option will be available” for those who do not wish to register for a card.
The Government’s policy of retaining its citizens’ personal information upon registration for a Public Services Card has no impact with regard to preventing welfare fraud, the PSC’s original purpose.
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 for Social Protection Regina Doherty has said that based on their own legal advice, her department does not accept the findings of the Data Protection Commissioner in relation to the Public Services Card.
The Government’s decision to challenge the Data Protection Commissioner’s highly adversarial rulings on the Public Services Card has been condemned as “ludicrous” and “incredibly bizarre”.