The national identification system (NIDS) is a digital, central, and foundational identification database used to verify our identity, backed by biometric information that links an individual to the system.

Before this initiative, Jamaicans had to develop different ways to verify their identities; that is, verifying identity through the use of a justice of the peace. This initiative will allow citizens to use their information to reduce the risk of Identity theft.

Before NIDS, the judicial system gave its opinions on the initiative to shape it through a joint select committee of Parliament with over 100 submissions on how the NIDS initiative could be better structured before being entered into force as legislation. The Data Protection Act played an essential part in the formulation of this initiative, as it gave the policymakers clear guidelines on how the public's data can be dealt with securely. In the Data Protection Act, entities are given up to two years to comply with the Act's general principles. However, the NIDs act is based on these principles as it stands as a Data Control System. Therefore, the NIDs legislation will also speak to third-party sharing and monitoring.

Regarding privacy and security, the ministry is developing the NIDs on a zero-trust basis. The system is designed where no one is trusted; models will be put in place to secure the system from everyone, including those monitoring the system. The NIDs Act specifies a legal obligation to encrypt the data to reduce accessibility. Blockchain technology will be used to secure the audit trails. We are also working with international organisations to develop a more structured security protocol to meet global data privacy and security standards.

NIDs seeks to reduce the need for any other form of identification, i,e, TRN and Driver's License. If you already have a TRN number when you come in to enrol for an identification number, that TRN number will be used as that number. Over time, the identification number will phase out the need for a TRN card. The ministry is planning to go one step further, where the need to have a separate Driver's License card will become redundant, as the NIDs card can be used to represent your license. Regarding the National Insurance Scheme, the NIDs Identification number will replace the traditional NIS Number. The Identification number aims to stand as the Social Security number of Jamaicans; however, more digitised.

There have been questions about how the registration process for NIDs will help reduce crime because biometric data is required. For NIDS, a citizen's biometrics will only be collected for identification purposes. The primary purpose of NIDs is to serve as a central identification system to allow easier access when interacting with digital interfaces and identity verification. As it relates to law enforcement, there is an entirely different process where there has to be a court order for anyone to access the database.

Contributed by Minister Floyd Green, Minister without portfolio, OPM and Matthew McNaughton, Co-convener NIDs Focus Coalition, on behalf of the Jamaica Technology and Digital Alliance (JTDA).

Floyd Green, Minister without portfolio, OPM and Matthew McNaughton, Co-convener NIDs Focus Coalition

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