Biometric data for NIDS database will be encrypted

Biometric data for NIDS database will be encrypted

Saturday, January 16, 2021

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PROGRAMME director for the National Identification System (NIDS) Warren Vernon says that biometric data for the national identification database will be encrypted to prevent unauthorised access.

“Your fingerprint and facial image will be encrypted, so that a regular person just can't access it like that unless you have the resources or the authority to decrypt the information,” he said.

“Additionally, your fingerprint and your facial image will be kept offline. We are only using your facial image and your fingerprint to ensure that your identity is unique and to protect [against] identity theft,” he said.

Vernon was speaking at the second virtual town hall on the National Identification and Registration Act, 2020. The legislation makes provisions for a voluntary and secure national identification system for Jamaica.

The NIDS programme manager informed that roles and functions have been separated to ensure identity security and reduction of identity fraud and to safeguard the information of persons who enrol in the system.

“We have over seven layers of vetting. No single person can produce [or generate] a national identification card,” he pointed out. He added that at the point of enrolment, the officers will not be allowed to enter basic identity information.

“Take, for example, your birth certificate. An enrolment officer will not be allowed to [enter that information]. That information must be pulled from the civil registry. This is important to prevent fraud. If we allow that, then an enrolment officer will be able to create an identity for someone,” he said. He warned that “significant penalties” will be levied on individuals who commit breaches.

Vernon further disclosed that, through NIDS, unique addresses will be provided for individuals, which will assist in eliminating address issues, particularly in the rural areas.

He noted, for example, that “in a rural area you might have a street called Prickle Pole and it's a very long road…we will use Google Plus Codes to give every enrolled individual a unique address and the accuracy is about three metres”.

“This is significant because… you will now be able to give every person a unique address where if you're a business person and you order a package, that package can be shipped directly to you and [the delivery person] will be able to find you,” he said.

NIDS 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 an individual's identity, facilitate the electronic signing of documents and ensure access to services online and inline.

The town hall sessions 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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