Not all anti-NIDS people are activists

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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Dear Editor,

Life has two or even three sides to every story.

I do not hide my political views and principles: I am a conservative Labourite. But I have some questions for my party and Government.

Am I misguided with my concerns for privacy? Am I a conspiracy theorist because I don't trust governments? Am I supporting criminality because I'm not in agreement with the national identification system (NIDS)? Am I not to be concerned about sections 34-58 of the NIDS Bill with regard to offences and fines? Am I not to be annoyed and upset when my Government is sending its citizens to the Office of the Prime Minister website for information on NIDS? How many of us can afford a data plan to browse the Web?

Are church groups, human rights organisations, and civil society the only ones to be consulted about NIDS? Just having few town hall meetings is not enough to educate the common man on the street. Public education after passing a Bill is a bit offensive.

Misinformation exists on both sides of this issue. Some pro-NIDS activists behave as though NIDS is the silver bullet against corruption, crime, voter fraud, etc. They compare a person who subjects him/herself to the terms of travel to a foreign country with a citizen who lives in their own country.

South Africa has NIDS yet always ranks high with regard to incidence of murder. Even Uncle Sam has talk about voter fraud and the US has a de facto national ID called a social security number, as well as state IDs for its citizens. Somalia introduced a new secure NIDS in 2014 yet, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index rankings of 2016, that country is among the most corrupt in the world. Coincidentally, the same CPI ranking of 2016 ranked Denmark as the least corrupt country in the world and they don't have a NIDS.

Is making NIDS compulsory defeating its purpose? So why do we have 15 countries with non-compulsory NIDS for its citizens? These countries are Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Japan, Mexico, Sweden, Switzerland, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States.

I'm also very concerned with the age at which we are putting our kids into this system. For example, in our neighbour country Trinidad and Tobago, the age to be placed in the NIDS is 15 years old and over, while ours is from birth to six years old for enrolment. Even countries with compulsory NIDS do not make it compulsory for their children until a certain age. In Bangladesh the age for enrolment is 18.

Not all anti-NIDS individuals are activists; some just have genuine concerns. The People's National Party turned this issue into a political game. At the end of the day Jamaica suffers.

I strongly believe that the newcomers of the Senate, Donna Scott-Motley and Damion Crawford, are making their presence felt when we see a Bill go through over 168 changes. It also tells us that the NIDS Bill needed more thought. It also tells us that the Lower House needs to step up its game.

Teddylee Gray

Ocho Rios, St Ann




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