Fri | Jul 19, 2019

Richard Delapenha | NIDS is liberation

Published:Wednesday | January 9, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Richard Delapenha

This is an open response to a letter published on Saturday, January 5, 2019 in The Gleaner, written by Marvin Forbes and titled 'NIDS a reflection of slavery'. The letter showed a great lack of understanding for the National Identification System (NIDS) and exposed a lot of misconceptions about the system.

The introduction of NIDS has been discussed for more than 40 years and the act was developed by a competent team, instrumental in the creation of numerous laws currently in operation within Jamaica.

This is not the first act to have multiple amendments. The amendments made during the entire debate process show the integrity of the legislative system and a respect for feedback from a number of groups, including the Opposition.

Noteworthy, the insertion of words or punctuation marks are considered amendments, and wherever replicated, another amendment.

NIDS is NOT a surveillance tool that will track and monitor citizens. NIDS is an identity verification tool to authenticate that you are who you say you are. It is the foundation for a digital society, aiding in speedier and more efficient services while reducing identity theft. It is not, by itself, a solution for all crime.

Today, a number of our Jamaican citizens are without any form of IDs because of lack of finances or not reaching the prescribed age of 18 to obtain a functional ID, for example, a driver's licence or voter's ID. As you can appreciate a passport is an expensive form of ID, particularly when one does not plan to travel.


Free of charge


Unlike the fee to acquire a passport, NIDS will be free and will also include persons under the age of 18. This will actually liberate a number of Jamaicans who have been locked out of opportunities, services and benefits. What about that young woman or man who has been enslaved to a world of joblessness because of not being able to verify her or his identity?

NIDS will protect your information. For the first time in Jamaica, NIDS will give citizens the right to consent. This means your information cannot be shared without your permission. That is liberation!

NIDS will not require anyone to give any blood sample or DNA. Only four biometrics will be required for NIDS.

They are a photo image, colour of eyes, fingerprints (and, in the absence of fingerprints, an iris scan), and a manual signature. The law does mention other options, but this was done to ensure that no one is excluded, particularly the disabled community. The proposed NIDS solution will not include all listed in the law.

It is long established that forms of IDs are the 'passports' for doing business with any entity, be it government or private sector.

So, why question their usage now? Non-Jamaicans will not require a NIDS to do business, but they are required to present their own government-issued ID to transact business with Jamaican entities.

Imagine a Jamaica where we can do 99 per cent of our businesses online.

This would mean higher productivity and higher GDP. Imagine a Jamaica where one will not need to take a bus, taxi or contend with traffic and join lines to do business. Imagine a Jamaica with e-prescriptions resulting in fewer prescription errors.

Imagine a Jamaica where we use less paper.

Imagine a Jamaica where there is electronic voting and where everyone is able to access services and benefits in a shorter time.

Imagine an efficient citizen-centric Jamaica. That sounds like liberation.

- Richard Delapenha is NIDS PR and marketing manager. Email feedback to