Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Questions (66)

Thomas Byrne


66. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position regarding the recent ruling of the Data Protection Commissioner on the public services card. [50358/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Public Services Card (PSC) was provided for in legislation in 1998 when it was introduced alongside the PPS Number to replace the previous Revenue and Social Insurance Number and the Social Services Card.  It acts as an identifier for access to a broad range of public services.  Successive Governments have since reaffirmed this policy both in Government decisions and through legislation.

In October 2017, the Data Protection Commission (DPC) commenced an investigation into the SAFE / PSC process and delivered its Final Report to the Department on 15th August this year.  On 17th September, the Department published the report of the DPC together with a summary of its own response to the findings of the report.

On the basis of strong legal advice from the Attorney General’s Office, I am satisfied that the processing of personal data related to the PSC does, in fact, have a robust legal basis, that the retention of data is lawful and that the information provided to users satisfies the requirements of transparency. 

I am advised that the findings in the DPC report do not have the force of law until such time as they are formalised in an Enforcement Notice.  To date, the DPC has not issued an Enforcement Notice.  On receipt of the Notice, the Department will consider its scope and terms and will respond appropriately at that time.

In the meantime, the Department will continue to conduct the SAFE registration process and issue PSCs.  It will also retain the supporting documentation collected as part of the SAFE process.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.