Mon | Apr 6, 2020

Jamaica Eye legality questioned

Published:Wednesday | March 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue/ Senior Gleaner Writer

The legality of Jamaica Eye - the latest crime-fighting effort of the Ministry of National Security, which works in tandem with private companies using CCTV images - was yesterday questioned during the sitting of the joint select committee hearing submissions on the Data Protection Act (DPA) 2017.

In making their presentation to the committee, Andre K. Sheckleford and Justine A. Collins argued that the Jamaica Eye system needed a clearly defined legislative purpose or it ran the risk of contravening the principles established by the DPA.

"... We believe that given that there is a purpose limitation in the DPA 2017, that there should be clear legislative guidance," Collins told the committee. According to her, Clause 34 of the DPA provides exemption for the purposes of using data in the prevention and detection of crime, as well as the apprehension and prosecution of offenders.

The proposed law, which is companion legislation to the National Identification System (NIDS) Bill, is seeking to provide the legal framework for the collection of the biometric data of all Jamaicans.

Committee member Julian Robinson agreed with the observation of Sheckleford and Collins. "I want to join the presenters in calling for the urgent tabling of legislation in relation to Jamaica Eye ... . We are actually linking into private individuals and companies who have CCTV cameras. Generally, the legislation (DPA) provides exemption for crime fighting and for government entities," said Robinson.

"But there is no clear provision for a private individual or company who has CCTV cameras," he continued. "It captures data on individuals on a daily, hourly, minutely basis. It provides that to this Jamaica Eye system. If there is a breach, for example, who would be held responsible? Would it be Jamaica or would it be the individual company that provided that information?"

Robinson said there were a number of areas of ambiguity, given that a private-public system was being used, while in other jurisdiction it was largely public.

Committee chair, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Andrew Wheatley, said he also shared the concerns raised by the speakers before him on Jamaica Eye. He said: "But just for the record, as it is right now, there is a certain level of protection as relates to the data that is collected and how it is treated."