Public bodies with right to use PSC say it doesn’t benefit them

Elizabeth Farries

A significant number of public bodies who have a right under legislation to use the controversial Public Services Card (PSC) have said it does not benefit them, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has said.

The civil liberties group surveyed 164 bodies who are either directly or indirectly listed as bodies with permission to use the PSC under the Social Welfare Act.

Of the 42 bodies which responded, 91 per cent said their office did not specifically benefit from the PSC, 73 per cent said they had no further intention of implementing it, and nine per cent said they would seek to limit any further roll-out of the card.

One government agency explicitly noted that it had privacy concerns about the PSC.

Elizabeth Farries, lawyer and information rights programme manager at ICCL, said the survey had revealed a “lack of clarity and, in some cases, complete ignorance about the system”.

ICCL is deeply concerned that the card may be illegal and that it impacts disproportionately on those living in poverty.

The UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty, Professor Philip Alston, will speak about the PSC in Dublin at an event called “Keeping Tabs: The Surveillance of People in Poverty” later this month, co-hosted by ICCL and Digital Rights Ireland (DRI).

ICCL is continuing to call on the Data Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon, to release her office’s so-far-unpublished report on the PSC.

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