The Information Rights Project Manager for the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Elizabeth Farries, has said that the Irish State is forcing disadvantaged people living in poverty to trade their data to access services to which they are already entitled.
She was referring to the public services card, which ICCL maintains is a well-known Irish example "of how technology can be used against people living in poverty."
The ICCL recently submitted a report on the public services card to UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty, Professor Philip Alston for his upcoming report to the UN Human Rights Council on digital surveillance technologies.
Prof Alston is to give a talk in at the Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre in Dublin on Monday where he will discuss how surveillance technology is being introduced into social welfare systems around the globe.
Prof Alston is John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, and co-chair of the law school's Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice.
Ms Farries told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that despite Government claims to the contrary, the public service card is “very clearly” a biometric card.
She acknowledged that “the horse has bolted” on the issue and welcomed the outcome of an inquiry conducted by the Data Protection Commissioner into the legality of the public services card (PSC) in the coming weeks.
"The Government has created a digital check point where people must hand over their biometric data in order to put food on the table.
"It's deeply unfair, because those required to get the PSC are least likely to be able to fight it."