Fri | Aug 7, 2020

Hold national dialogue on NIDS

Published:Tuesday | May 26, 2020 | 12:17 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

IN THE wake of the passing of the Data Protection Bill by the House of Representatives and recent statements by the Prime Minister that the Chief Parliamentary Council has received the NIDS 2020 policy paper, we recognise that the way is being paved for its unveiling. However, national consultation is required for the proper implementation of the National Identification System (NIDS) legislation if it is to be implemented at all. We submit that this national consultation should take place via a joint select committee of Parliament.

Ordinarily, when the Government seeks to amend or introduce legislations, in order for the proposed changes to be correctly introduced, specific steps for consultation are taken. The responsible regulatory body associated with the proposed legislation will make available to the affected stakeholders the text of the proposed changes to be implemented, along with the policy informing each proposed change. The responsible regulator will also invite those stakeholders to provide comments/feedback on the proposed legislation within a specified time.

This was done, for instance, before the implementation of the recent amendments to the Pensions (Superannuation Funds and Retirement Schemes) Act despite the urgency driving the desire to amend. We submit that this comprises adequate consultation.

The previous pseudo “consultation” done by the Government in relation to the proposed NIDS legislation was woefully inadequate then and is inadequate now. We, the stakeholders to be affected by the implementation of this legislation, want more than town-hall meetings and private discussions with a few organisations/dissenters deemed to be representative of the collective voice. We desire maximum transparency to facilitate robust discussion and a thorough review of all relevant perspectives.

Public Consultation

We want the text of each proposed amendment submitted to us (the people), along with the policy informing said proposed amendments, and also a public invitation/solicitation for submissions and comments on same. We want a joint select committee. We do not want a law of this magnitude, which recent history has shown can go terribly wrong, (recall the decision of the Supreme Court which found the previous hastily constructed law to be unconstitutional), to be subject to anything less than fulsome national consultation.

This proposed legislation impacts us all! Therefore, we, the Jamaican people, want more than bright graphics and social media summaries. The facts we want on NIDS are the bill (draft) and policy paper submitted to a joint select committee of Parliament and an invitation for comments/submissions to be solicited from the general public (with the potential for input from international experts).

Finally, please be reminded that NID systems are extremely controversial globally. Many jurisdictions, more advanced and wealthier than ours, have rejected NIDS because of the inherent risks accompanying these systems which could not be effectively mitigated. Less invasive, risky, and expensive means could be used to achieve the same policy objectives.

DANIEL THOMAS

President

Love March Movement

COLOURBLIND Campaign