Letters to the Editor

What's next for NIDS?

Monday, April 15, 2019

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Dear Editor,

The Government of Jamaica has been given a big blow as the Constitutional Court of Jamaica struck down its controversial Bill for the proposed national identification system (NIDS).

The court has pointed out some aspects of this Bill to be in breach of one's human rights according to the Charter of Rights 2011.

Some points to highlight are:

* the alleged retina scan which is able to tell one's state of health;

* mandatory registration in the system; and

* how the data will be stored.

These points are really interesting and one should have placed the framework in the Bill to answer these questions.

The shock to many would be that no part of the Bill can stand. How is it that a national identification system cannot stand in a country?

I do believe that this Bill would have had far-reaching effects for doing business within one's country. As citizens we are so frustrated by the different levels of red tape and paperwork in conducting businesses within the country. This Bill, many would argue, will help to fight crime, despite this not being the intention of the Bill. This Bill would also be able to capture one's every detail and allow better identification of an individual.

The question on the lips of many is: What is next for this NIDS Act?

Well, there are many options: Create a new NIDS Act bearing in mind the court's ruling on the breaching of the Charter of Human Rights.

Bring the NIDS to the Privy Council for them to rule whether or not the entire Act must be struck down.

Hold a referendum on the question: Would you want a national identification system?

Or, just forget all about a NIDS and leave it to another Administration to implement such an Act.

Going forward, the Government and the Opposition must take a bipartisan approach to this national identification system.

Christopher Johnson

Minister of Religion



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