Sun | Nov 18, 2018

Letter of the Day | Don't paint NIDS critics as noisy naysayers

Published:Wednesday | December 6, 2017 | 12:24 AM


The exponents of the National Identification System (NIDS) have disingenuously framed the debate as'NIDS-no NIDS', where those who object are guilty of not supporting a national ID. This is not true. Most do support NIDS and are fully on board with the need for it.

However, our objections are based on the following points:

- High-cost, $8 billion: Jamaica is unable to maintain basic services health, education and national security are massively underfunded. In an island of nearly three million people, the desire to implement NIDs, with all these biometric trappings, is an extravagance we cannot afford.

- The intrusive nature of this system picture, fingerprint, signature, iris scan topped off with an encyclopaedia of our personal information.

- Forced participation: It is unacceptable to demand participation under threat of prosecution.

- The massive impact to the public in transitioning systems from tax registration number (TRN) to NIDS.

Instead, we argue for a simpler approach:

Expand the role of the TRN. Add a picture to, and use, facial recognition to find and weed out possible duplicates. The driver's license is already using the TRN and a picture. The cost to roll out NIDs using a similar framework will be trivial.

Assign TRN at birth, as per 'FrankenNIDS', stored with the birth certificate. An application for a NIDs ID can be done at 16, and then the picture and other demographic details can be collected and the NIDs ID issued.

The benefits remain the same and would accrue immediately (since the TRN is already in use and has been for more than two decades) and the cost would be trivial compared to 'Franken-NIDS', not to mention the years it will take to roll out.