Sun | Sep 23, 2018

Concerns surrounding NIDS

Published:Tuesday | November 21, 2017 | 12:45 AM


One benefit I can appreciate about the National Identification System (NIDS) is that children will be able to have a means of identification they can use prior to becoming 18 years of age.

However, how does the Government intend to deal with verification of address in relation to a child? What are the requirements in relation to address verification using a rent receipt or utility bill? The Government indicated that NIDS will prevent identity theft, but it failed to mention the ways in which this is achievable.

How will the biometric database be maintained? How will the Government be facilitating system upgrades? Will system upgrades affect regular day-to-day services? The fingerprint system that is currently utilised at the Police Records Office sometimes runs out of space to hold data, and this disrupts normal duties. How will the Government prevent this occurrence?


What about a business continuity plan for NIDS? Will the Government have a back-up for the data? I believe that town hall meetings and/or social media polls should have been held prior to the passing of this bill to engage citizens and residents on their thoughts on the implementation of NIDS. We feel as though the Government made the decision to implement NIDS without the interaction of the public.

What about constitutional rights? When a citizen applies for a visa and utilises the biometric services, he chooses to engage in this activity and wilfully provides information to that particular country. The fact that persons will not be able to access government services without NIDS is an indirect method of forcing Jamaicans to obtain NIDS.

What if providing biometrics is against a particular religion for a citizen? How will this be addressed? The Government mentioned that only in life-threatening situations, persons will be allowed to access health-care services with the absence of NIDS. However, what are the requirements for life-threatening health-related situations?

Last, the Data Protection Act and or a Cyber Crime Act should have been enacted prior to the passing of the NIDS bill. How will the Government provide assurance for protection of all the data that will be stored in NIDS? How will the Government protect against cybercrimes and identity theft in relation to NIDS?

The Government of Jamaica needs to act now and provide the citizens with adequate information in relation to NIDS. The information provided online is not adequate to address all the concerns about the system.