$3 million fine for persons who illegally use NIDS information

$3 million fine for persons who illegally use NIDS information

Saturday, January 16, 2021

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck, says persons who breach the provisions of the National Identification and Registration Act, 2020, and unlawfully access or misuse information provided for the national identification system (NIDS), could be fined up to $3 million.

Chuck, who is Chairman of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament reviewing the legislation, was speaking during a virtual town hall meeting on the legislation on Thursday.

The legislation makes provision for a voluntary and secure national identification system for Jamaica.

According to the ministry, the layered rollout and management of the NIDS will be handled by a new agency, the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA). The NIRA will replace the Registrar General's Department (RGD) and provide more enhanced services.

“[Under] Section 30 of the Bill, any official of the NIRA who misuses or provides information unlawfully or anyone who provides information to anyone which is not provided for in the Act commits an offence and the person, having committed the offence breaches the duty of secrecy or confidentiality imposed by this Act, [and] shall be liable on conviction before a parish court to a fine not exceeding $3 million, in lieu of a term of imprisonment,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, Chuck said safeguards are in place to ensure that persons cannot use another individual's national identification card.

“The likelihood of someone stealing the card and using the card is literally zero, because if they try to use the card, anyone can see that this is not your card and, in fact, Section 16 imposes a duty on persons who get possession of a card that doesn't belong to him or her, to return it to the authority,” he said.

Programme Director, NIDS, Warren Vernon, said the system will prevent identity theft, noting that it will be very difficult for individuals to transact business with a card that does not belong to them.

“The way how the system is designed is for you to always verify the information with the Authority,” he said.

The NIDS is being facilitated under the National Identification and Registration Act and will provide a comprehensive and secure structure to enable the capture and storage of identity information.

Under the system, which will have anti-fraud features, each citizen will be assigned a unique nine-digit National Identification Number (NIN) for life.

This secure tool can verify individuals' identity, facilitate the electronic signing of documents and secure access of services online and inline.

The town hall meetings form part of a series of government-led consultations to inform the public about NIDS, while affording opportunities for their questions and concerns to be addressed.

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