Tue | Sep 28, 2021

Don’t water down NIDS

Published:Saturday | April 24, 2021 | 12:07 AM


I have been observing the joint select committee examining the new NIDS Bill with intrigue. I must commend Minister Delroy Chuck on how he has been conducting the process, so far. The presentations from members of the public are remarkably interesting and some of the suggestions put forward are encouraging. The Government must be commended for listening and taking up this approach.

Nevertheless, I wonder if some of the submissions really provide for a more efficient Jamaica. Take for example the recommendation from Love March Movement, that the Jamaican government use the United Kingdom model where verification of identities are done by private companies. I believe that suggestion would be unwise as the “UK verify” is solely for the verification of identities for online purposes. This would be a half-baked approach, as in Jamaica we still have a lot of citizens who are unable to do digital transactions and still need an ID for face-to-face transactions. So that model would not solve the identification issues for persons not having an identification card to prove their identity. Additionally, I would not want my identity information residing in the private sector. I would prefer the Government keeping my information. Intriguingly, a lot of advocates are now pushing for plans to reintroduce a national ID for UK citizens.

In another submission, the public defender was of the view that the amount of data to be collected under the NIDS would result in the “trespassing and intrusion in a citizen’s personal space”. I found that assertion worrying, so I did some research and surprisingly, I discovered that the proposed NIDS is comparable to all the existing IDs, in fact, some of the existing IDs require more information than the 21 set of NIDS requirements.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of this new NIDS; however we cannot continue to water down NIDS or continue on this path in Jamaica, but readily accept similar systems when visiting other countries.