DPC welcomes resolution of proceedings relating to the Public Services Card

10th December 2021

Legal proceedings in which the Department of Social Protection appealed against an Enforcement Notice issued by the Data Protection Commission (DPC) in relation to the Department’s processing of personal data when issuing Public Services Cards (PSC) have been resolved.

The Data Protection Commission welcomes the resolution of the proceedings.

In particular, it welcomes the fact that significantly enhanced levels of information are now being provided to citizens to explain (amongst other things) what personal data is processed when an individual applies for a PSC, how it is processed, and to what end, with further enhancements to follow on the basis of additional engagement between the parties.

The DPC also welcomes the Department’s acknowledgment that, in the absence of legislation making specific provision for this, other public sector bodies cannot compel any individual to acquire a PSC as a precondition to the provision of access to public services. To that end, at least one other option must now be provided in any case where an individual is required to verify their identity before accessing public services.

Significant adjustments are also to be made to the Department’s approach to the retention of applicants’ personal information, it being recognised that a system founded on the blanket and indefinite retention of all of the information contained in documents submitted in support of a PSC application does not strike an appropriate balance between an applicant’s rights under data protection law, and such other interests as the Department seeks to protect. The DPC looks forward to engaging with the Department in relation to the development and implementation of its new systems.

The DPC also looks forward to the Department’s continued cooperation with its ongoing (and separate) inquiry into the Department’s use of biometric facial templates in the application of its facial matching software which is used for the purposes of the SAFE 2 registration process when a person applies for a PSC.

Public Services Card (PSC) Report

Public Notice