Thu | May 23, 2019

Biometrics under NIDS to reduce identity theft

Published:Saturday | March 3, 2018 | 11:53 AM
Jacqueline Lynch-Stewart

Chief Technical Director for the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division, Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Jacqueline Lynch-Stewart, says biometric data compiled under the National Identification System (NIDS) will assist in reducing incidents of identity theft.

Biometrics refer to identification based on the analysis of unique physical characteristics.

With the increased incidents of identity theft, Lynch-Stewart said this information was essential in safeguarding citizens from having their personal information stolen.

“Biometrics are what will protect everyone. Somebody can look like you and can have a similar name; in fact you can have a twin, but it’s the biometrics that make sure that you are really who you say you are. And, that is what is going to protect you when you have your card,” she said.

Lynch-Stewart was speaking at a NIDS public forum at Webster Memorial United Church, in St Andrew on Thursday.

The chief director said only four biometric data are to be submitted under the NIDS –   facial image, fingerprints (10), eye colour and signature.  

For persons who do not have hands, an iris scan will be required.

“We anticipate a small percentage of our population will fall into that category; for example, persons who work in an environment where their fingerprints have been eroded (persons using chemicals and farmers),” she explained.

Other data that can be volunteered are blood type, employment status, race, religion, education, profession or occupation.

This voluntary information will be submitted to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) for statistical purposes only.

“We are asking you to volunteer this information. It is for statistical purposes only. But if you don’t want to give us, you don’t have to. We are not taking DNA, bank account information, criminal record, political or sexual orientation,” the Lynch-Stewart pointed out.

The NIDS, which is scheduled for implementation in 2019, will provide a comprehensive and secure structure to enable the capture and storage of identity information for all Jamaicans.

Under the system, each citizen will be provided with a randomised nine-digit National Identification Number (NIN), which they will have for life. NIDS will be the first national identification system rolled out in the Caribbean.