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Compensation Claims Possible in Aftermath of Public Service Card Data Breach Revelations

Posted: September 26th, 2019

Following confirmation that the data gathered the issuing of Public Services Cards (PSC) was being held illegally, the State is likely to be hit with a number of compensation claims.

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) has said that, following an official investigation, the holding of data gathered during the application process was illegal and unauthorized. Additionally, the obligation, placed on the general public by the State, to have the card in order to avail of a number of services, was also illegal.

Speaking about the validity of the PSC, Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon said: “Any cards that have been issued, their validity is not in question by anything we’ve found in this report They can continue to be used in the context of availing of free travel or availing of benefits that a person is claiming from the department.” She also asked that the Department release the full details of the report of the investigation in the Public Services Card.

An official DPC investigation found that the operation of the PSC scheme not in line with data protection legislation due to the inadequate nature of information provided, by Department of Social Welfare, to individuals. Due to this data held on more than three million card holders must now be deleted and data processing by the Department, rather that the public body providing the service, must be put to a stop within a specified timeline or some enforcement measures may be penalties.

The DPC said “Ultimately, we were struck by the extent to which the scheme, as implemented in practice, is far-removed from its original concept. Whereas the scheme was conceived as one that would make it easier to access (and deliver) public services, with chip-and-pin type cards being used for actual card-based transactions, the true position is that no public sector body has invested in the technology capable of reading the chip that contains the encrypted elements of the Public Sector Identity dataset. Instead, the card has been reduced to a limited form of photo-ID, for which alternative uses have then had to be found.”

A number of civil society groups in Ireland who are said to be mulling over the possibility of initiating a class-action style legal action. When the card was first introduced advocacy groups in including Digital Rights Ireland, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty, Age Action argued against its use.


Categories: Personal Injury Claims

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