NIDS — dumb and dangerous

Friday, November 24, 2017

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Dear Editor,

The Government of Jamaica has decided to pass legislation which will make it mandatory for everyone to have a biometric form of identification and they will be custodians of the data. If you do not comply with this law, then you will face conviction, which will be a fine of $100,000.

Now, how is the financially strapped Government going to pay for this? It's been reported that yet another loan, this time from the Inter-American Development Bank, for US$68 milion, will be used to implement this fiasco. If this is true, there'll be yet another loan which the already overtaxed society will have to repay.

However, the question is why is there a need for this biometric card? What is the economic benefit to the Jamaican people? And, out of all the problems facing Jamaica at this time, why is the national identification system (NIDS) all of a sudden so important? Is this something the Jamaican people asked for? Or do they simply not have a voice in the matter? Isn't the Government elected to represent and work on behalf of the people of Jamaica?

I am sure if you enter the constituency of every single Member of Parliament you will see far more pressing ills and urgent needs of the people than the need for NIDS, yet they will be the ones who will be penalised for up to $100,000 for an identity card they didn't ask for, but is imposed on them by the people whom they have elected to represent them.

Which brings me to why this is dangerous. All the major developed nations are struggling with cybersecurity; many spend billions of dollars to safeguard themselves from hackers and they are finding it a difficult task. All major global companies are doing the same, and many have openly reported being hacked at some point, and those who don't, simply pay the hackers quietly. It's either nave, or downright misleading for the Jamaican Government to suggest they can fully secure the population biometric data.

Therefore, my question is why put the entire nation at this level of risk? To what end? And for what purpose? For the Jamaican people to demand answers to these questions isn't pandering to any partisan politics, it's their constitutional right.

Vernon Spencer




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