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Programme Director for the National Identification System (NIDS), Warren Vernon, speaking during a virtual town hall meeting on the National Identification and Registration Act, 2020, on Wednesday (January 13).
Photo: Donald De La Haye

Enrolments under the National Identification System (NIDS) are being targeted for commencement within eight months.

NIDS Programme Director, Warren Vernon, indicated that “if we receive the legal framework by May, we will be in a position to start personalising the first card by September 2021”, while adding that “we have been doing a lot of work [to this end] in the background”.

He was speaking during a virtual town hall meeting on the National Identification and Registration Act, 2020, on Wednesday (January 13).

The legislation makes provisions for a voluntary and secure national identification system for Jamaica.

Mr. Vernon gave the assurance that the card and system will be the most secure ever implemented by the Government.

“We are spending a lot to improve the security framework. We are implementing, for the first time, a National Public Key Infrastructure, which will be the security backbone for the solution,” he informed.

The NPKI forms part of the non-NIDS component of the Programme, which seeks to create a unique, reliable and secure method of verifying individuals’ identities.

The NPKI project aims to make Jamaica a more digital society in which there is ubiquitous use of information and information and communications technology (ICT) in all spheres, such as the home, work, and school as well as recreation.

It will enable trusted electronic identities for people, services and inputs, and the implementation of strong authentication, data encryption and digital signatures, based on a certifying authority.

Mr. Vernon pointed out that the system will also be designed to address challenges associated with identity theft and other incidents of fraud, particularly those reported by several ministries, departments and agencies within recent years.

Among these, he informed, are the Ministry of National Security, which reported more than 400 cases of identity theft; the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), which reported 2,000 similarly related cases of fraud; and the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), which reported more than 1,000 cases involving forged birth certificates.

Additionally, Mr. Vernon said the aggregate losses incurred and reported by deposit-taking institutions islandwide since 2018 totalled approximately $620.5 million.

“National identification systems are really standard systems globally. But the importance, here, from the legislative framework, is really the tighter controls that we are putting in place to ensure that the rights of all Jamaicans and the persons who are participating in this programme are protected,” he pointed out.

The NIDS is being facilitated under the National Identification and Registration Act and will provide a comprehensive and secure structure to enable the capture and storage of identity information.

Under the system, which will have anti-fraud features, each citizen will be assigned a unique nine-digit National Identification Number (NIN) for life.

This secure tool can verify individuals’ identity, facilitate the electronic signing of documents and secure access of services online and inline.

The town hall meetings form part of a series of government-led consultations to inform the public about NIDS while affording opportunities for their questions and concerns to be addressed.

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