Wed | Dec 8, 2021

NIDS fell flat!

Published:Monday | May 6, 2019 | 12:25 AM


Gleaner columnist Glenn Tucker completely missed the point in his column ‘The NIDS ruling: A solution searching for a problem’. The NIDS law he referred to was rushed through Parliament with some 260 amendments and provided extreme penalties, such as heavy fines and refusal of government services, if one did not have NIDS!

The NIDS Act required personal and intrusive biometric data which could not prevent the type of identity fraud Mr Tucker experienced. NIDS was not a solution; it was a problem. It could not prevent fraud.The USA and Canada, with a combined population close to 400 million, don’t have the equivalent of NIDS. What works in those other countries is a unique social numbering system which drives identity and national ID systems, such as passports and driver’s licences. And since this number is required for government services, banking, employment, vital links are established which enables identity tracking and flagging of suspicious and fraudulent activities. Passports used for crossing international borders makes more sense for the use of biometrics data to secure borders and national security.

Simplistic argument

It is simplistic to suggest that none of our existing identifications are secure enough, just because IDs can be fraudulently cloned. Businesses and government need to improve their processes of vetting and mapping information for validation and security. I still maintain that our TRN (taxpayer registration number) system could be enhanced and secured to drive national identity. Even if another ID system is proposed, it should be linked and driven to the TRN to enable a more complete system of tracking identity. Most Jamaicans have a TRN, which is linked to their driver’s licence and is required for government services. TRN should be required for passports as well, and records of death. The TRN can be secured to eliminate duplicates and fraudulent numbers. Eventually, the system will be close to 100 per cent accurate.

It is pointless blaming anyone for the demise of NIDS when the proposed NIDS fell flat on its own. The Government was arrogant during the fast-paced consultative process with the public, and they moved forward with NIDS implementation, even when a legal challenge stood in the way. It is naive to think that NIDS by itself can solve crime when we don’t even have an adequate security system (with biometrics) that can be used to track the small percentage of perpetrators, most of whom are repeat offenders!