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Anxiety over data Gov't will collect for nat'l ID

Published:Friday | September 8, 2017 | 12:00 AM
The Rev Dr Stephenson Samuels
Nastassia Robinson, attorney-at-law and member of Jamaicans for Justice.

The Reverend Dr Stephenson Samuels, senior pastor of the Escarpment Road New Testament Church of God, says that while he supports the move to establish the National Identification System (NIDS) for all Jamaicans, his fundamental concern is with the kinds of information that the Government will collect from citizens.

"I find that identification cards help to order your society, organise your society in a more coordinated and sophisticated way. However, I do know that sometimes, the ways in which information is collected and the kinds of information collected can impact people," Samuels told The Gleaner.

He argued that an identification card is a very helpful instrument, noting that in his capacities both as a justice of the peace and a marriage officer, an identification card is of great value in carrying out his duties.

Samuels pointed out that access to resources is sometimes affected because of the lack of some instrument of identification (ID).




At a stakeholder forum on the National Identification System on Thursday at the University of the West Indies, Mona, attorney-at-law and member of Jamaicans for Justice Nastassia Robinson said that Jamaicans would be required to provide biometric information to the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) in order to get a national ID.

Biometric information includes photograph, signature, fingerprint, toe-print, palm print, iris scan, retina scan, blood type, and eye colour.

Robinson explained that the legislation to establish NIDS prevents the NIRA from sharing the core biometric information with anyone outside of that agency as that data was confidential.




At the same time, the Reverend Conrad Pitkin, president of the Jamaica Association of Full Gospel of Churches, argues that while the Government has indicated that registration for a national identification card is not mandatory, Jamaicans would have little or no option to obtain one as they would be denied access to public goods and services offered by government agencies, departments, and public bodies.

"While you are not forcing a person to get an ID, if you listen carefully to where the discussion is going, you are going to need an ID," he stressed.

Pitkin said that many Jamaicans are without a passport or a driver's licence, while many are not enumerated and, therefore, not in possession of a voter's ID card.

"From our perspective, we are not in opposition to an ID because every person needs a proper ID," he stated.