Data Protection Commissioner: Transparency needed over public services card

The Data Protection Commissioner has said the issue of transparency needs to be addressed as public debate continues over the controversial public services card.

The Irish Independent revealed today that the card will now be needed for a growing number of benefits, including eligibility checks for new dental and optical benefits being brought on-stream this October.

Opponents of the card have raised concerns about data protection while the Government has said the card will “ensure and improve services”.

Now Helen Dixon, the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) has said “there is a pressing need for updated, cleared and more detailed information to be communicated to the public and services users regarding the mandatory use of the public services card for accessing public services”.

Transparency on the underpinning legislation, what data being collected, for what purpose and with whom the data might be shared needs to be addressed the statement said.

The provision of updated information was necessary under data protection law and would also go towards maintaining public confidence in the system she said.

The DPC has requested that the Department of Social Protection publishes a comprehensive FAQ on the card answering questions such as how the information is collected and who can access it.

The department has agreed to answer these questions and the document is due to be published shortly.

At the moment the card is used for a range of services including Department of Social Protection payments, taking the driver theory test and first-time adult passport applications

 

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