The Ministry does not recognize any legal basis for the public services card being compulsory to access services other than social assistance

Updated on December 10, 2021, 5:34 p.m.

THE MINISTRY OF SOCIAL WELFARE has acknowledged that there is no legal basis for requiring people to obtain a Public Services Card (PSC) for anything other than social payments and benefits.

The agreement is part of a pretrial settlement that resolves a legal challenge the Department was filing against a decision of the Data Protection Commission (DPC).

In a landmark 2019 decision, the DPC concluded that a CSP should not be required to receive state services such as obtaining a driver’s license or passport.

The DPC said in a statement today that it welcomes the resolution of the proceedings.

“In particular, it welcomes the fact that significantly improved levels of information are now provided to citizens to explain (among other things) what personal data is processed when an individual applies for a CSP, how it is processed and for what purpose. , with further improvements to follow based on further engagement between the parties,” the DPC said.

The DPC also welcomes the Department’s acknowledgment that in the absence of legislation specifically providing for this, other public sector bodies cannot compel an individual to acquire a CSP as a prerequisite for access to public services.

“Significant adjustments must also be made to the Department’s approach to the retention of candidates’ personal information, recognizing that a system based on the general and indefinite retention of all information contained in the documents submitted in support of a PSC application failing to strike an appropriate balance between an applicant’s rights under data protection law and the other interests the Department seeks to protect. »

The ministry had defended its right to process PSC-related personal data, saying it had a “sound legal basis” to do so.

While the DPC says the Department will make “significant adjustments” to how it handles and maintains data obtained through the PSC application process, the Department said in a statement today that its right to processing the data had been recognized.

“Under the agreement, it is recognized that the Department of Social Protection may continue to process personal data to authenticate an individual’s identity and issue a CSP to that individual, which may be used for the purposes of accessing public services, both those provided by the Department and those provided by other public agencies,” the ministry said in a statement.

It is also acknowledged and agreed that the Department and other specified agencies may continue to use MyGovID as the sole means of identity authentication for the purposes of accessing online services, provided that an alternate service channel is available. available.

Social Care Minister Heather Humphreys said today she was ‘pleased the latter has been resolved’.

“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 line during Covid,” she said.

Driver’s license

In response to the agreement between the parties, the Road Safety Authority said it would make no changes to the National Driving License Service’s online application process.

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To apply for a driver’s license or learner’s permit online, a utility card and MyGovID are required.

In a statement, the RSA said people can also apply for licenses in person, where a PSC is not required.

“The NLDS online service relies on MyGovID to authenticate an online customer, which is in compliance with the regulations. As has always been the case and will continue to be, any customer can use an alternative channel to apply for a license or a learner’s permit by visiting an NDLS counter in multiple locations across the country,” said the RSA.