Coalition cautious about NIDS becoming mandatoryTuesday, April 06, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — A group of 13 local institutions today cautioned the Government against allowing the newly drafted National Identification and Registration (NIDS) Bill becoming “de facto" mandatory.
According to leader of the group, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) spokesman Rodje Malcolm, the law should not be made “de facto" mandatory by requiring the identification to become necessary to access basic goods and services.
“People should not face the prospect of social exclusion because of non-enrolment, nor should their conditions be made more difficult in order to influence their enrolment. This includes making certain services contingent on enrolment in NIDS,” he told the committee.
“This Bill, and subsequent regulations, must be clear to not have the effect of degrading or introducing limitations on existing identification options Jamaicans have available to them today,” he said.
“It is important to note that this does not negate the new avenues for identity verification that NIDS will enable due to the features of the system. However, these avenues must be viewed as additive, expanding access to legal identification for all Jamaicans,” he added.
Malcolm also suggested that significant components of the legal framework for the NIDS Bill have been left to future regulations.
The key areas include the process of application and enrolment, how authentication will be managed, how verification will be conducted, the manner in which accredited third parties will be managed, the business processes associated with NIDS and other components, he said.
He stated that while it is not controversial to relegate operational matters to subsidiary legislation, in some cases, the Bill did not establish foundational clarity and direction.
Malcolm's co-presenter, Slash/Roots Foundation's co-founder Matthew McNaughton, pointed out that the intention of the coalition of 13 bodies making the input was purely to see aspects of the Bill improved.
He said that the coalition in its entirety and unequivocally supports the establishment of the NIDS system, recognising the inconvenience of the current identification framework in Jamaica.
“There are too many who do not have access to an identification and their statistics have been shared on multiple occasions, and I am agreed that we can do better as a society,” he said.
The other 11 member group forming the coalition are: National Integrity Action; Combined Disabilities Association; Jamaica Computer Society; Access Now; Open Society Foundations – Justice Initiative; Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network; Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition; Jamaica Network of Seropositives; JFLAG; Stand Up For Jamaica; Jamaica Accountability Meter Portal.
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