Prime Minister, the Most. Hon. Andrew Holness, on Tuesday (December 15) tabled the National Identification and Registration Act, 2020, which makes provisions for a voluntary and secure National Identification System (NIDS) for Jamaica.
The legislation has been referred to a Joint Select Committee of Parliament for detailed review.
Speaking in the House of Representatives, Prime Minster Holness said the identification system has the potential to positively transform the efficacy and transparency of interactions between the State and citizens and residents, with significant additional positive effects for private businesses.
“The Bill will serve as the legal basis for the establishment of a robust, efficient and effective National Identification System underpinned by a legal and regulatory framework that supports safe, secure and reliable verification of identity information for citizens of Jamaica and persons ordinarily resident in Jamaica,” Mr. Holness said.
“It will allow for the strengthening of identity security, reduction of identity fraud and the simplification of bureaucracy,” he added.
The Prime Minister noted that subsequent to the Supreme Court ruling dated April 20, 2019 on the National Identification and Registration Act, 2017, the Government has taken steps to revise the National Identification and Registration Policy of 2016 and develop a new Bill in compliance with the ruling.
The policy now provides for a voluntary NIDS that will provide a secure, reliable and convenient means of identification for citizens and persons ordinarily resident in Jamaica, and the administrative structure, powers and functions that are necessary for the establishment and maintenance of such a system.
It also provides for a robust and coherent legislative framework to treat with the collection, processing, storage, retention, usage, and protection of personal data; the protocols, procedures, and systems for identity verification, monitoring and compliance; and an independent oversight body.
Prime Minister Holness told the House that participation of eligible persons in the system must be voluntary.
He said that only biographic and biometric data that is absolutely necessary to ensure the efficacy of the process will be taken.
“Identity information is the property of the individual concerned and their informed consent is required for it to be collected, stored and used by anyone. The identity information, which any individual provides voluntarily, must be accorded the strictest level of security,” Mr. Holness noted, adding that provisions must be made to restrict unauthorised access by third parties.
“I wish to emphasise that this Bill seeks to improve the efficiency in establishing and verifying identity, thereby improving business processes and service delivery and enhancing the Government’s ability to implement a coherent e-government strategy and support national security,” he said.
The Prime Minister told the House that promulgation of the Act will contribute to the achievement of crucial Vision 2030 goals, including adequate social protection, security and safety, effective governance, an enabling business environment, a technology-enabled society and improved national competitiveness.
“Most importantly, the Bill is indicative of this Administration’s responsiveness in ensuring that the rule of law is observed and that the rights of the people are protected. The Bill reflects this Administration’s commitment to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of Jamaica,” he added.