Month: August 2019

Compensation Claims likely Following Confirmation of Public Service Card Data Breach

It is extremely likely the State will face a barrage of compensation claims following revelations that the gathering of data during the issuing of Public Services Cards (PSC) was illegal.

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) has published a report which found that the storing of information gathered during the application process was illegal, along with the obligation on the general public to have the card in order to avail of the provision of certain State services and benefits.

There are already several civil society groups who have revealed that they are considering submitting a class-action style case. At the time that the card was introduced advocacy groups in including Digital Rights Ireland, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty, Age Action objected to it.

Following the DPC investigation it was deemed that the operation of the PSC scheme does not comply with the transparency requirements of the data protection acts due to the inadequate nature of information provided, by Department of Social Welfare, to those who were having their data processed. The result of this is that he 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 discontinued. These tasks must be completed within the specified timeline or some enforcement measures may be sanctioned against those responsible.

In a statement regarding the investigation 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,” the DPC said in a statement published on its website.

“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.”

There have been some calls for the Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty to resign from her position due to the controversy. Sinn Fein have revealed that they are considering tabling a motion of no confidence prior to the Dáil returning from summer recess in September. Reacting to the investigation findings, Minister Doherty said: “We only received the report yesterday. It’s a very comprehensive report. We are going to consider the report and issue a full response as soon as we can.”

The card was launched initially in 2011 in order to assist with the processing of social welfare payments. Following this, it was required for a number of other services including first-time adult passport applicants, replacement of lost, stolen or damaged passports issued prior to January 2005, where the person is resident in the State, citizenship applications, driving test and driver licence appointments.

This does not mean that the PSC is now a redundant form of identification and it will continue to be valid for a range of specific services. 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,” she said. “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 went on to say that this does not mean that it is impossible to issue a single card, or possibly a national identity card that can be used for all interactions with the state.  She said: “No, we’re not saying that at all. We’re saying that if that’s what’s intended or required, there isn’t a lawful basis [as currently set up]. It can’t be the case that a national identity card automatically offends EU charter fundamental rights or EU data protection law because they exist all around Europe. It is a possibility, by carefully laying down the lawful basis for such a card.”

Ms Dixon has asked the Department to publish the report of the investigation in the Public Services Card.

 

Giraffe Creche Compensation of €35,000 for Young Girl

€35,000 Giraffe Creche Compensation has been awarded to seven-year-old Emily Martin who was filmed in an RTE documentary on creche mismanagement tied into a chair and left to cry during nap time when she was just 21 months old.

Presiding Judge Simons was that that n 2013 an RTE journalist took up a undercover role at the Giraffe Creche in Stepaside. She was employed as childcare worker and was able to secretly record the daily practices for a duration of six weeks. The footage she captured was broadcast on May 28, 2013 displaying many of the children being badly treated.

Emily Martin, via her father Jonathan Martin, was recorded as part of RTE’s first undercover creche expose. she took the Giraffe Creche Compensation action against Giraffe Childcare and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The court was told that Emily had been attending the Giraffe Creche at Belarmine Copse, Enniskerry Road, Stepaside, Dublin from the time that she was eight months old. Just after her first birthday she was moved into into the ‘wobbler room’. Her (Emily’s) parent’s informed Judge Simons that they had considered the claims of the creche brochure that the care given was of a ‘premium nature’ before enrolling Emily to attend.

They said that they became extremely distressed upon viewing the RTE Primetime documentary footage. The footage in question showed their child tied to a chair to prevent her from walking. There was more footage of Emily crying while holding her toy horse was she was having difficulty getting to sleep during nap time.

Counsel for Emily and her parents advised the judge that Emily was told to ‘go asleep’ repeatedly and a creche worker threatened to taken the toy horse away from her when she did not. The RTE reporter tried to comfort Emily as she was crying but was directed to ‘leave her cry’. Emily parent’s immediately took her away from the care of the creche upon viewing the documentary footage.

Her parents also told the Judge that, once she was moved into the wobbler room,Emily began to experience trouble sleeping and would regularly often become angry and would shout. After she was taken away from the the creche this behaviour came to an end.

The creche abuse compensation action alleged that Giraffe creche had failed to put in place proper precautions for Emily’s safety, had wrongly restrained children in chairs and had tried to put them to sleep in a cruel way. In addition to this it was claimed that supervision and training of staff it was not conducted properly.

A different claim was taken by the Nolan family against he Health Service Executive, stating that the body had not made sure that the creche complied with all childcare regulations.

A settlement was agreed between all parties involved and Judge Simons said he was happy to approve this Giraffe creche compensation settlement, which included meeting the costs of the legal action.