The Irish Biometric Public Services Access Card will not be compulsory

The Irish government has waived legal action against the country’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) over the use of the National Public Services Biometric Card, the handling of data collected and the card registration process. The DPC is lifting a block it placed on aspects of the controversial card while departments must accept other methods of identity authentication.

The dispute dates back to August 2019 when the Data Protection Commission published a report on the Public Services Card (PSC) and the biometric enrollment process known as SAFE registration where individuals report to a center with certain documents and have a face photograph taken and provide an electronic form. signature used to issue the cards.

The report went to the very root of the matter to question the legal basis of PESCO and its uses. The DPC has issued an application notice to the Department of Social Protection which manages the PSC process. The notice required the ministry to cease all data processing carried out for SAFE registration and the issuance of PSCs other than where a PSC is issued specifically for a person applying for or receiving a welfare benefit from the ministry.

The app effectively restricted the rollout of the card requirement for other departments.

The Department of Social Welfare appealed the findings of the DPC. The appeal was due to be filed in court on December 7, 2021, but the department reached an agreement with the DPC which overturned its execution.

The regulations allow the Department of Social Protection to continue to process the personal data necessary and proportionate to authenticate a person’s identity and issue them a CSP to be used to access public services. The DPC believes that the use of SAFE and PSC has a legal basis for the provision of social services, provided that the relevant departments also agree to another method of authentication.

The Department of Social Protection and others may continue to use Ireland’s digital identity verification system for access to public services, MyGovID, as the sole means of authenticating an individual’s identity (it is accepted as sufficient), but it cannot be the only means for a department to authenticate individuals. A PSC (and therefore a SAFE record) is required to register for a MyGovID.

The Department and the DPC will also ensure that all non-essential data collected during a SAFE registration is permanently deleted or irreversibly redacted. The Ministry will also make changes to its privacy statement.

“I am very happy that this case has been resolved. Given the high level of adoption of PSC/MyGovID, today’s agreement is good news for both our citizens and public service providers,” said Social Care Minister Heather Humphreys in a government statement.

“Most importantly, the agreement means that members of the public can continue to apply for their utility card for the purpose of transacting with government departments, which has proven extremely useful given the increased interaction in online during COVID-19.”

The Irish government recently announced modeling that showed huge savings from using the MyGovID system, and elsewhere in Irish identity news there is record demand predicted for passport processing this year next. A new passport processing contract has been awarded to HID Global.

Article topics

authentication | biometric data | biometrics | data protection | digital identification | signing | identity management | identity verification | Ireland | national identity card | confidentiality | social Security