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Concerns over NIDS no excuse to not move towards digital age, says­ Holness

Published:Tuesday | February 27, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer

Noting that the advantages of technology can act as a catalyst for the transformation of the society and economy, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said that the legitimate privacy concerns raised by citizens in relation to the National Identification System (NIDS) are no excuse for the Government not to move the society into the digital age.

He was addressing a press conference at the 7th International Development Bank (IDB) Annual Caribbean Governors’ Meeting at the Pegasus hotel in New Kingston yesterday.

Holness’ statement came against the backdrop of Finance Minister Audley Shaw earlier signing a US$68-million (J$8.8 billion) loan agreement with the IDB for the implementation of controversial system.

“We acknowledge that in the past sometimes, the Government has not always been scrupulous with people’s information, or how they have used it, but that is not a reason for Government not to move the society into the digital age,” said Holness.

“Whatever it is that Government is doing, whether it is in fighting corruption, law enforcement or in digitising the society, Government must act responsibly, scrupulously and with integrity. So, the real issue is not so much to do with the digitisation and the use of technology, the real issue is how we as Government act in an integrous way to guarantee the citizens that the data will be protected.” Holness reasoned.

The registration phase of the NIDS is predicated on the provision of biological and biometric data.
Under the proposed system Jamaicans without a national identification card will not be able to do business with government agencies and departments when it is rolled out in 2019. Additionally, persons without the national ID might also face serious challenges as they seek to do business with the private sector.