What is The Public Services Card?
A Public Services Card (PSC) is a card issued to help you access a range of public services. It is usually issued when you are allocated a Personal Public Service (PPS) number, which everyone in Ireland needs in order to access social welfare benefits, public services and certain information.
You need a PSC for access to a range of important public services. These include accessing social welfare services and applying for your passport for the first time if you are over 18, or if your last passport was issued before January 1, 2005 and has since been reported lost, stolen or damaged.
Citizenship applications also require a PSC. It does not, however, apply to renewals of passports issued after January 1, 2005 or to applications for children.
What are the issues with it?
Since the Public Services Car was first introduced it has controversially split opinion; its proponents argued that it would make life easier and more efficient for the holder, unlocking a range of public services that previously required the filling out of reams of documentation, and bringing forward a new era of access to public services. Opponents of the card said that it represented a data land-grab, and a massive risk to the publics data privacy rights.
Under an agreement reached with the data watchdog, the Department has conceded the State can’t demand people use a PSC to access other public services. The Department of Social Protection has now acknowledged that specific legislation would need to be passed by the Government to do this.
The card contains your biometric information (photo) is stored alongside crucial identifying information (your name and signature) in a database. Databases, by their nature, are insecure and the government has not published the security protocols in place on this one. Therefore, your identity could be vulnerable to theft.
The issues in summary:
(a) it has no clear legislative basis;
(b) it is not a necessary or proportionate system for achieving access of services or fraud prevention; and
(c) there is a serious risk that your personal, intimate data could be hacked, leaked and sold.