DRI launches ‘#no2psc’ campaign against Public Services Card

26 Sep 2019

Image: Digital Rights Ireland

Digital Rights Ireland is launching a campaign with the hopes of gathering 1,000 Public Service Card users to lodge a complaint against the Irish Government for failing to comply with GDPR.

On Wednesday (25 September), public advocacy organisation Digital Rights Ireland (DRI) launched a campaign called ‘#no2psc’, calling for action against the Government’s Public Services Card (PSC) scheme.

DRI, which describes itself as dedicated to defending “civil, human and legal rights in a digital age”, is chaired by Dr TJ McIntyre.

Upon the launch of the #no2psc campaign, McIntyre said: “More and more public bodies are demanding service users present a PSC. Using the PSC as a national ID card with no underpinning legislation or safeguards for members of the public is simply illegal.”

The organisation references the recent findings by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC), which branded elements of the scheme as ‘unlawful’.

Data protection

DRI noted that the DPC found “individuals were not given enough information about how and when their information would be passed to other departments and that the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection was not justified in retaining data indefinitely”.

Although the DPC instructed the Department of Social Protection to destroy data relating to 3.2m PSC applications, Minister Regina Doherty, TD, has said that her department will not comply with the directions from the PSC project.

McIntyre said: “Ireland does not have the class action lawsuits made famous by American movies, but under GDPR we now have the power to file a legal complaint on behalf of multiple complainants.

“With #no2psc, we’re hoping to gather more than 1,000 PSC users to force an end to the Government’s mass abuse of personal data.”

‘Badgered and cajoled’

On the campaign’s website, the DRI outlines some of the aspects of the PSC that it is opposed to. This includes what it describes as “biometric data abuse”, data warehousing, illegal sharing and illegal expansion.

“The Government has badgered and cajoled millions of people into signing up for the card and database without legal basis. The PSC has unlawfully spread across departments, functionally turning the PSC into a National ID Card without legislation or debate,” it said.

The #no2psc campaign also highlights the cost of the PSC. DRI said: “The PSC costs 3647pc more than it saves. According to the DEASP’s own published statistics given to the DPC, the PSC project has cost tens of millions of euros and recovered, at best, just 1.7m in fraud.”

The organisation is now accepting submissions to its complaint through a form on its website.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic