Department won’t release report on services card
The Department of Social Protection is refusing to reveal information on the Data Protection Commissioner’ s investigation into the lawfulness of the public services card.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties had asked the department about the commissioner’s investigation under Freedom of In- formation legislation.
Refusing the request, the department said it would “be contrary to the public interest” to release information about the investigation.
Another reason for refusing the request was that the “requester concerned would thereby become aware of a significant decision that the body proposed to make.”
The ICCL, a leading independent human rights or- ganisation, had asked for “all information” about the investigation by the commissioner, Helen Dixon.
In October 2017 it was reported that Ms Dixon, had opened a formal investigation to see if the card fully complied with the law.
Ms Dixon presented a draft report to the department in August 2018, according to correspondence that the department provided to ICCL in response to their FoI request.
It was reported last September that the commissioner gave the department two weeks to respond to the draft report.
The ICCL believes the public services card is a disproportionate interference with privacy and does not provide adequate safeguards from abuse.
Council director Liam Herrick said “full transparency” was needed on the legal basis for the public services card because it violated the privacy and data protection rights of people living in Ireland.
“We have been campaigning against its introduction because it’s unnecessary, costly, and of questionable efficacy,” said Mr Herrick.
He said it was “deeply troubling” that the Govern the ment had continued to roll the card out for essential services while a question hangs over its legality.
The ICCL intends to appeal the department’s decision to the Office of the Information Commissioner.
“We believe that the public has an immediate right to know what decisions are being taken behind closed doors about our privacy,” said Mr Herrick.