Biometric Data for NIDS Will Reduce Identity Theft

Photo: Donald De La Haye Chief Technical Director for the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division, Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Jacqueline Lynch-Stewart, makes her presentation on the National Identification System (NIDS) on Thursday, March 1, at a public forum at the Webster Memorial United Church in St. Andrew. The forum was one of several public education initiatives being spearheaded by the OPM on the system.

Story Highlights

  • Chief Technical Director for the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division, Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Jacqueline Lynch-Stewart, says biometric data compiled under the National Identification System (NIDS) will assist in reducing incidents of identity theft.
  • “Biometrics are what will protect everyone. Somebody can look like you and can have a similar name; in fact you can have a twin, but it’s the biometrics that make sure that you are really who you say you are. And, that is what is going to protect you when you have your card,” she said.
  • For persons who do not have hands, an iris scan will be required. “We anticipate a small percentage of our population will fall into that category; for example, persons who work in an environment where their fingerprints have been eroded (persons using chemicals and farmers),” she explained.

Chief Technical Director for the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division, Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Jacqueline Lynch-Stewart, says biometric data compiled under the National Identification System (NIDS) will assist in reducing incidents of identity theft.

Biometrics refer to identification based on the analysis of unique physical characteristics.

With the increased incidents of identity theft, Mrs. Lynch-Stewart said this information is essential in safeguarding citizens from having their personal information stolen.

“Biometrics are what will protect everyone. Somebody can look like you and can have a similar name; in fact you can have a twin, but it’s the biometrics that make sure that you are really who you say you are. And, that is what is going to protect you when you have your card,” she said.

Mrs. Lynch-Stewart was speaking at a NIDS public forum at Webster Memorial United Church, in St. Andrew on Thursday, March 1.

The Director said only four biometric data are to be submitted under the NIDS – facial image, fingerprints (10), eye colour and signature.

For persons who do not have hands, an iris scan will be required. “We anticipate a small percentage of our population will fall into that category; for example, persons who work in an environment where their fingerprints have been eroded (persons using chemicals and farmers),” she explained.

Other data that can be volunteered are blood type, employment status, race, religion, education, profession or occupation.

This voluntary information will be submitted to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) for statistical purposes only.

“We are asking you to volunteer this information. It is for statistical purposes only. But if you don’t want to give us, you don’t have to. We are not taking DNA, bank account information, criminal record, political or sexual orientation,” the Director pointed out.

The NIDS, which is scheduled for implementation in 2019, will provide a comprehensive and secure structure to enable the capture and storage of identity information for all Jamaicans.

Under the system, each citizen will be provided with a randomised nine-digit National Identification Number (NIN), which they will have for life. NIDS will be the first national identification system rolled out in the Caribbean.

Implementation of the NIDS is supported by the National Identification and Registration Bill, which was passed in both Houses of Parliament in November.

The Government intends to put the NIDS infrastructure and systems in place over the next 12 months, beginning with a pilot project.

This is expected to be followed by the national roll-out in September 2019, over a three to four-year period.

The layered roll-out and management of the NIDS will be handled by a new agency, the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA), which will replace the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) and provide more enhanced services.

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