Privacy secured? - New security features added to SIPP website
Almost four months after The Gleaner first reported the lack of privacy surrounding the website of the National Security Interests in Personal Property Registry, the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) has announced changes to protect the data.
In an exposé published last February, The Gleaner noted that by logging on to the Internet and typing a name into the registry's search engine, persons could find personal and business information, including name, address and debts.
This prompted the Government to shut down the search engine as it sought to secure the information submitted following the passage of the Security Interests in Personal Property (SIPP) Act last year.
According to deputy chief executive officer at COJ, Shellie Leon, users of the registry will now need an account to access certain information and carry out a search.
"Initially, anybody could go on the registry and do a public search; however, members of the public felt that there may be an invasion of their privacy," Leon told the JIS Think Tank.
"So, what the COJ and the Government of Jamaica have done, in order to balance the interest of the public and the ease of giving credit, is to allow public searches, but to do this on a restricted basis ... so persons will have to create an account before they can go on the registry and do a search," she informed.
Leon explained that the searches would now be done through a two-tiered system.
"So when someone logs on, the first level of information that they can get is the name of the debtor and a description of the collateral and information relating to the secured, which is the person, who grants the loan ... so they will be able to get that person's name and contact information," she said.
SECOND TIER OF SEARCH
The second tier of search takes place upon the payment of a fee, and will grant more information with a more detailed description of the asset, the amount borrowed and other information in regard to the loan.
Leon pointed out that the imposition of a fee is intended to ensure that only persons who have a serious interest and a valid reason to search will proceed to this second tier.
She said the changes that have been implemented seek to ensure that whoever goes on the site can be traced, as in order to set up an account, persons must present their Tax Registration Number (TRN) as well as date of birth.
"So when you enter that information, this will be validated against the TRN database and give some level of assurance that the person who is creating the account is indeed one and the same person," she added.
According to Leon, the changes involved the input of several stakeholders, including customer interest groups, financial institutions, microlenders, COJ and other government entities, which made submissions in terms of recommendations and solutions.