Thu | May 23, 2019

NIDS, Data Protection Bill clash? - Government urged to probe harmony between the two

Published:Friday | May 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Rodje Malcolm

Having been touted as a mechanism that will strengthen the National Identification System (NIDS), there are no specific provisions in the proposed Data Protection Act that specifically address the functions of the new ID system.

That's the view of participants who waded in on the provisions of the Data Protection Bill during a public forum held at the New Kingston campus of the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean on Tuesday.

Responding to specific questions about the bill, Executive Director of Jamaicans for Justice Rodje Malcolm said that nothing pertinent to the NIDS Act was contained in the Data Protection Bill.

"It was the Government, when they passed NIDS, that said, 'Don't worry about the data protection standards. It will all be in the Data Protection Act.'

"In fact, the NIDS project team has made submissions to the data protection joint select committee indicating that the Data Protection Bill, in some respects, conflicts with NIDS. The main problem that they have are the same issues that Dionne [Jackson Miller] raised - the information commissioner, different standards within the legislation and a lack of harmony between the two," Malcolm pointed out.

While acknowledging that much of how the NIDS would ultimately function was left up to regulations, which are to be tabled in September, the JFF executive director urged the Government to further probe the harmony between the NIDS and the Data Protection Bill.

"Directly, the intersections aren't as clear [so that] the public will be able to identify [them] just from reading the bill," Malcolm said.

The Opposition People's National Party has challenged the constitutionality of the NIDS, arguing that some sections violated guaranteed rights. But the Government has responded by accusing the Opposition of being obstructionist, vowing to defend the NIDS and maintaining that adequate protection would be put in place, including the Data Protection Act