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Glenn Tucker | The NIDS ruling: A solution searching for a problem

Published:Friday | May 3, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Glenn Tucker

A short while ago, there was a lovely picture in the print media. It had some People’s National Party (PNP) lawyers in their lawyer costumes. They were celebrating a ruling by the Supreme Court that was favourable to them. That court had declared the National Identification System (NIDS) null and void.

I must confess to considerable bewilderment at this ruling. When I first heard of the NIDS proposal, I was pleased. And I will say why.

On two occasions, years apart, the police came to my home and refused to leave without me. I was shown some documents, along with an ‘ID’ with my picture and a signature that was definitely mine. It’s just that I had never seen any of these documents before.

To add to this embarrassment, on another occasion, I gave a presentation to a reputable organisation. To strengthen my case, I mentioned how the project in question was handled in Malaysia and how their model could be replicated in Jamaica.

The following day, I could not access my email messages. I sought help and discovered that every person who had ever communicated with me by email had received a message stating that I was stranded in Malaysia and needed financial help to return to Jamaica.

I have gone to the ATM – twice – only to discover that there wasn’t even enough money to buy a Gleaner. On the second occasion, I went to the head office of the bank and found about 25 other persons with a similar complaint.

All of this is to say that there is not one form of ID issued in this country that is worth the paper on which it is printed.

According to Javelin Strategy, the number of identity theft victims in the United States (US) rose to 16.7 million in 2017. In 2012, the cost of lost data was just under US$22 billion.

Symantec’s 2019 Internet Security Threat Report states that ‘formjacking’ attacks skyrocketed, with an average of 4,800 websites compromised each month. Ransomware shifted targets from consumers to enterprises, where infections rose 12 per cent. More than 70 million records were stolen from poorly configured S3 buckets, a casualty of rapid cloud adoption. Supply chains remained a soft target, with attacks ballooning by 78 per cent.

Mobile malware continues to surge. The number of new malware variants increased by 54 per cent in 2017, compared to 2016. Last year, there were an average of 24,000 malicious mobile applications blocked every day. While threats are on the increase, the problem is exacerbated by continued use of older operating systems. Global cybercrime damages are predicted to cost US$6 trillion annually by 2021.

The ‘feared’ biometric data can be of tremendous benefit to the healthcare industry, personally identifiable financial information, crime and unique identifiers such as passports. Recently, biometric technology has been tipped as the future of healthcare – both for patient security and better time management. If the patient cannot communicate their illness or symptoms, the healthcare worker can access their medical history through a biometrics scan. The potential for healthcare is beyond what we ever thought possible.

If any instances of malpractice were to occur in a building, biometrics can identify the particular individual in the area at the time, along with the time they clocked in and out. So that person is easy to identify.


The primary concern of the detractors seems to be the right to privacy. Privacy is the right of a person to control access to his or her personal information and the right to be free from intrusion or interference. The four most common invasion of privacy torts are:

1. Appropriation of name or likeness

2. Intrusion upon seclusion

3. False light

4. Public disclosure of private facts

In the personal experiences I mentioned earlier, all of these violations were suffered by me. I have all the legitimate IDs offered by this country. How did they protect me? This is exactly what the technology in NIDS will do for us – protect our privacy.

I have said and written about this before, and I will say it again. The PNP is a great organisation. It has more than its fair share of bright, creative minds. It is sad that it continually limits its role to opposing, opposing for opposing sake and scavenging for scandals. What a waste of great talent. We can safely ignore the jokers who talk of ‘the mark of the beast’, ‘end times’, etc. The members of that political party know better and should do better. They have offered no alternative to NIDS.

May I suggest, respectfully, that the party spend time focusing on credible alternatives to government policies and start to look and behave like a government-in-waiting? If not, the only way they will see Jamaica House again is when they go to bingo parties at the Ranny Williams centre next door.


I was leafing through the table of contents of a French tech magazine this week and saw the following story headlines:

1. ‘ValidSoft team to address US voice biometrics market demand.’

2. ‘Biometric exit launches at Dallas Fort Worth Airport.’

3. ‘Biometric authentication among innovations causing optimism for global mobile payments market.’

4. ‘Report provides technical details about biometric smart card market.’

5. ‘Keystroke dynamics market to surpass $750m by 2025 on multimodal biometrics demand.’

6. ‘Jamaica’s Supreme Court strikes down NIDS bill.’

I am prepared to go to the ATM and give everything there to anyone who can identify the only negative, backward looking story in that magazine.

Overall, biometrics technology will benefit all who adopt it, especially as it is increasingly more secure than keycards, PINs, and passwords, which, in essence, rely on users to keep them safe and not share them with other individuals.

Glenn Tucker, MBA, is an educator and a sociologist. Email feedback to and