JIS News

Story Highlights

  • National Security Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says Government’s implementation of the National Identification System (NIDS) will ensure that Jamaica becomes a technologically secure country comparable to more developed nations.
  • “This system will propel Jamaica’s drive (towards) digitisation, comparable to countries such as Spain, Colombia, Peru and Estonia,” he said.
  • Dr. Chang added that NIDS will assist in mitigating the challenges associated with electronic fraud, enabling a reduction in identity theft and protection against human trafficking.

National Security Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says Government’s implementation of the National Identification System (NIDS) will ensure that Jamaica becomes a technologically secure country comparable to more developed nations.

“This system will propel Jamaica’s drive (towards) digitisation, comparable to countries such as Spain, Colombia, Peru and Estonia,” he said.

Dr. Chang added that NIDS will assist in mitigating the challenges associated with electronic fraud, enabling a reduction in identity theft and protection against human trafficking.

“The data that will be amalgamated through NIDS will be taken apart and used to make Jamaica safer. We have taken great pains to ensure that vibrant security architecture is established around our big data ecosystem,” he noted.

Dr. Chang was speaking at the sixth staging of the National Cybersecurity Conference at the Regional Headquarters of the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) on November 27.

The two-day conference is being held under the theme ‘Data Protection – Securing Big Data, Understanding Biometric and Protecting National ID Systems’.

The NIDS project, which is being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government, seeks to establish a national database for all Jamaicans. It is a secure and reliable way to verify a person’s identity. NIDS will provide each citizen with a unique national identification number, which the user will keep for life.

Dr. Chang assured that the data collected through NIDS will be securely stored and monitored to safeguard against breaches.

He noted that the Government is ensuring that strong supporting legislation is in place to combat cybercrime, protect sensitive data and bolster NIDS.

He pointed to the Data Protection Bill, which is before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament.

He said that the provisions in the Bill bear similarities to the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was enacted earlier this year.

It is intended to safeguard, in general, the privacy of individuals in relation to personal data as well as govern the collection, regulation, processing, keeping, use and disclosure of certain information in physical or electronic form.

The legislation will seek to set out the rights of the individual, with respect to their personal data. This will include, for example, the right to confirm whether personal information or data are being processed by an organisation.

Meanwhile, Conference Chair and Director of the Mona Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Policy Centre, Professor Hopeton Dunn, said the conference will “zero in on data management, rights and risks as well as on public education,” with NIDS to take centre stage.

“We will probe, test and interrogate in the search for the best solutions, which we will document both electronically and in print through the rapporteur’s report and share and make available to national leaders around the Caribbean, who may not be present,” he noted.

For her part, Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica, Her Excellency Laurie Peters, lauded Jamaica for its leadership in cybersecurity.

This, she said, is evidenced by the number of activities staged in observance of Cyber Awareness Month in October, and the partnership between the Jamaica Cyber Incident Response Team (JA-CIRT) and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to increase levels of awareness among citizens, students and business.

She further acknowledged the steps Jamaica has taken to have a policy or strategy on cybersecurity in place, which has helped the country “to be the best in the Caribbean”.

“Canada is a key international partner for Jamaica, especially when it comes to our efforts to fight crime and violence,” she said, acknowledging the benefits Jamaica receives under Canada’s Anti-Crime Capacity Building Programme and the Counter- Terrorism Capacity Building Programme.

“Through this assistance, we have been able to provide training in areas as broad as polygraph operations through to anti-money laundering techniques,” she indicated.

Other speakers of the opening session of the conference included Head of the Department of Computing in the Faculty of Science and Technology at UWI, Dr. Gunjan Mansingh; Senior General Manager of the Retail Banking Division at the National Commercial Bank (NCB), Brian Boothe; and Internet Society Regional Affairs Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean, Shernon Osepa.