Jamaica’s NIDS ignites data protection talks

The Jamaica Gleaner posted an article on February 25, 2021, about data protection discussions around Jamaica’s NIDS. Below are some key highlights:

  • Senior legal counsel at the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), Celeste McCalla, is urging a joint select committee of Parliament now examining the National Identification and Registration Act, 2020, to ensure that there is a robust legislative framework to protect private data.
  • The Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional the previous law. We didn’t see it in the bill,” the BOJ’s senior attorney observed. The legal team from the NIDS Secretariat, which is providing technical support for the committee, pointed to Section 23 of the proposed law that addressed McCalla’s concerns.
  • Section 23 said that the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) shall ensure that the information stored in the national databases is kept in a secure manner and that confidentiality is preserved. She said that the word ‘preventing’ should be replaced with ‘minimising’ identity theft and other instances of fraud, as there was no guarantee that the proposed framework could absolutely stop crimes from occurring.
  • In the central bank’s submission to the committee on Tuesday, McCalla suggested that the bill be reviewed to provide for stronger measures to ensure that the information collected was protected
  • “What is expected of the authorities to ensure that the information will be properly protected when it is collected by that entity and what measures will be in place for the protection of such information? We didn’t see it in the bill,” the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ)’s senior attorney observed
  • Committee member Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte asked the National Identification System (NIDS) Secretariat to provide an example of what steps would be taken to prevent identity theft
  • NIDS Project Director Warren Vernon said that the steps being proposed to prevent identity theft were to “tie someone’s biometric to their birth certificate record”

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