Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Ceisteanna (525)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

525. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will address concerns that section 5 of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017 undermines privacy by allowing private bodies to use the public services card as a form of identification; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20796/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Under current legislation, a Public Services Card (PSC) cannot be requested by any public or private body or person that is not designated as a specified body in Schedule 5 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended). The PSC can only be used by public bodies specified in this legislation when conducting a public transaction with the person concerned.

One of the provisions set out in Section 5 of the Social Welfare, Pensions, and Civil Registration Bill 2017 would, if enacted, enable citizens to volunteer their PSC where they wish to use it as a form of proof of identity and/or age. However, it is important to note that a non-specified body could not request or demand the production of a PSC. It simply gives individuals the option to use their PSC if they wished, as proof of identity and/or age, in transactions with non-specified bodies.

It is clear from customer feedback that they should be allowed to volunteer the card to non-specified bodies if it suits them to do so, for the purposes of ID verification. Customers often report that private companies insist on a State-issued photographic ID such as a passport or driver’s license which they might not have and which attracts a cost. In contrast, the PSC is free of charge.

For the sake of clarity, therefore, the Deputy should note that this proposal in no way allows nor can a private sector body access the customer data on the card or on any Government database. It simply provides for the card be accepted as a form of identity verification by a private sector organisation or non-specified body - but only at the sole discretion of the card holder. Far from undermining privacy, I believe that this approach gives power to the individual to control access to and use of their PSC.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.