Varadkar dismisses plan to link Public Services Card to social media

Fine Gael TD Jim Daly floated the idea as a means of protecting children online

Varadkar dismisses plan to link Public Services Card to social media

A sample Public Services Card (Details have been blurred) | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Taoiseach has said the Government has no plans to try and link social media accounts to the Public Services Card.

It comes after the Minister of State for Mental Health, Jim Daly floated the idea of forcing social media companies to demand PPS numbers from users to verify their age.

Speaking on RTÉ television, Deputy Daly said had asked the European Commission to explore the possibility - adding that "child protection trumps data protection."

He made the suggestion after a Dublin man was found guilty of using apps like Instagram and Snapchat to coerce young girls into sending him pornographic images.

The man - who is due to be sentenced on Friday - set up fake online profiles to target victims as young as nine-years-old.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, the Taoiseach dismissed deputy Daly's plan.

"I reassure the Deputy that the Government has no plans to link the Public Services Card to internet usage which I would agree would be a restriction on privacy and people's freedom," he said.

"I have no doubt the Minister of State Daly's thoughts and proposals were well-intentioned but it is certainly not something the Government is proposing to do."

Online child safety

Deputy Daly said he hoped his plan would prevent adults from using fake identities and targeting children - however, Alex Cooney, CEO of CyberSafe Ireland said parental supervision is the key to keeping children safe on social media.

"We absolutely need to be supporting and equipping parents to engage in their children's online lives," she said.

"That is fundamental; that is the best thing for keeping children safe on online - especially when they are young - is that they have good parental guidance there and involvement in their online lives."

She said she does not think we should hand over more personal details:

She said: "It is your personal data and I think we need to think about how much data we are giving away, we give an awful lot away without thinking about it.

"We also have to think is this going to be the thing that solves the problem, no, I think what we need to be doing is educating children."

These people in Dublin don't think handing over personal data is a good idea: