National Identification System: The Conversation Begins

The National Identification System, better known as NIDS, was first proposed by the Andrew Holness- led administration in September of 2017. The Bill was shot down by a lot of criticism. However, there were those who believed having a single form of identification that replaces the existing ones is the right step.

In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that the 2017 Act presented, violated the Constitution.

The NIDS 2.0 (as it is called by some) has resurfaced. The Government, still led by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, has taken the approach of much more public education and interaction, one of which is in the form of Town Hall Meetings.

The revised Bill is said to be a voluntary and secure form of identification, with the drafted legislation tabled in Parliament on December 15, 2020.

NIDS- First Town Hall Meeting

The Government’s first Virtual Town Hall Meeting was held on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. The media, the public, and members of the NIDS’s Joint Select Committee (JSC) weighed in questions to the presenters.

In the first of three Town Hall meetings, issues such as fraud, the mandatory or voluntary status of the system, as well as the system’s purpose were discussed.

On the issue of the system’s mandatory status, a member of the NIDS’s Technical team, Janelle Miller says, “NIDS is not mandatory…, when the individual is going for enrollment the National Identification and Registration Agency shall inform the individual that it is voluntary and they can cancel.”

The Chairman of the JSC, Delroy Chuck adds that there will also be some ease to using the system. He makes mention that the need to engage Justices of Peace for identity verification will be significantly reduced.

Additionally, NIDS Programme Director, Warren Vernon says with the new system cases of fraud is expected to decline.

” One of the key things to prevent ID fraud…is the introduction of fingerprints and facial images as part of the ID to secure it,” Vernon continues by stating that, ” we are also adding that layer of security…which is the public-private key infrastructure that has never been done before, to secure your ID, so once you are registered you are locked into that ID for life.”

Discussion on NIDS will continue in the NIDS Town Hall Meetings scheduled to take place on Wednesdays, January 20 and 27.