Petition Against Jamaica's NIDs

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A Case Against Jamaica’s NIDS

As of 19 September 2019 all Jamaicans, both in Jamaica and in the Diaspora will be required to register for the National Identification System (“NIDS”), if you do business or own assets in Jamaica.  The NIDS will collect data of your

 (i)             Biography (personal data of your life; who you are; where you live; what you have done etc);

(ii)           Biometric (detailed information about your body, such as the colour of your eyes; fingerprints; blood; urine etc.)

(iii)          Demography (birth; migration; age; quantitative and qualitative aspects such as sociological factors; education, development, criminal record, race, social class wealth, wellbeing.

 The main aim of NIDS is to uniquely identify a natural person and from that information generating an identification by a number that will be placed on a card. This card will be issued to every Jamaican citizen to use for his/her daily activities, such as shopping, financial activities etc. Without the NIDS number, no individual will be able to participate in the activities of daily living.  In other words, the NIDS removes the balance of power from the individual to the State; in effect, creating a totalitarian State, the consequences of which must be suffered by the citizen, namely, depersonalization of the individual.

 For all intents and purposes, the NIDS is an invasive and intrusive system that breaches at least eight of the 25 fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, for example, privacy rights, the right to explicit consent prior to collection of data and the right to withdraw that consent at any time; consultation (there has only been limited consultation prior to its introduction). It appears to be sinister in its entirety.

The speed at which the Jamaican government seeks to implement the NIDS is breathtaking.  It is not only dangerous, but also reckless. Jamaica is not yet established as a technological advanced country.  Its internet communication is fragile and the type of information technology required to operate the NIDS is woefully lacking.  A quick fix is unlikely to remedy the problem. The risk of the NIDS data falling into the wrong hands e.g. cyber hackers, as well as compromising the personal data of citizens has not been given any informed thought and where any thought has been given, those thoughts have been dismissed or systematically ignored, as if unimportant. Any compromise will be irreversible for the lifetime of the individual.

 It has been postulated that the introduction of the NIDS is a preventative measure and will bring down the crime rates.  This is delusional.  In fact, the NIDS is likely to increase the crime rate, particularly, in cyber crime which may be within the jurisdiction of Jamaica or by others abroad. In the latter case, those criminals are unlikely to be brought to justice.   In India, for example an individual was able to purchase the data of a 1000 individuals for $10.  Also the large hotel chain that had its 500 million personal data hacked in November 2018 and the problematic experience of 25 million customers of the second largest phone company in the UK shows that no Data can be 100 percent secure.

 Other factors, which renders the system unworkable as mechanism to deter or capture criminals, is that the wider communities in Jamaica do not show any trust in the security forces. From anecdotal evidence and publications in the media most criminals are known by the family, community members, police and even politicians but the mistrust factor for authorities such as the police force prevent people verbally passing on information to them. So if we cannot trust those in Jamaica in charge of investigating and enforcing the law with verbal information how are we going to trust them with such personal sensitive data as the NIDS?  Even the employment of state of emergencies will not be a deterrent. In fact, a state of emergency is more likely to be unconstitutional, where according to the media majority of innocent individuals are incarcerated without a shred of evidence of any criminal offences being committed. As a result, many innocent people are being criminalized, which will impact theirs’ and their family life and well-being. In any event, both the politicians and police forces know the criminals and, therefore, the reason for implementing NIDS as a measure against crime is not borne out. Another issue is that the government stated that they will not be collecting samples for DNA in the NIDS data. Most of us know that DNA is the one piece of authentic evidence that can be used to catch criminals because there is 1: million chances that any two individuals will have the same DNA match. So what will be used from the NIDS data to provide evidence to convict a criminal if no data for DNA is collected?

 It is understood that the Jamaican government has borrowed the sum of $68m for the purpose of implementing the NIDS and most of this sum will be used to upgrade systems ready for digitalization. The money is borrowed from the IDB to implement the system but who is going to repay the loan? If it has been said that the $68m is being used up and if the government cannot find the balance for implementation of the NIDS or find it difficult to repay the debt. With NIDS it appears that the data collected on individuals’ financial status and assets will allow the State and financial institutions, to have direct access to all Jamaican citizens’ bank accounts and assets to collect money at source to repay the loan (consent is already given).  The speed at which the government is seeking to implement the NIDS is suspicious and appears to answer this statement in the affirmative.

 Other questions which springs to mind is why Jamaica has not signed up to the General Data Protection Regulations (“GDPR”) as other developed countries, such as the UK and France have done?  The GDPR offer the same Data Base Protection as the NIDS but without the intrusive and invasive process and procedure as the NIDS. With the GDPR there is consultation informed consent and the individual right to be forgotten. This means that one can withdraw one’s consent and opt out of the system at any time which is the individual’s democratic right.

 The Jamaican government has, instead chosen the NIDS, which is nothing less than a form of control. The government points to the success of the NIDS in countries such as Estonia. Estonia is a former communist state which gained independence from Russia in 1991.  Estonia has a 500 year history of being dominated by Finland, Sweden, Germany and Russia the latter from which it gained independence. Although Estonia is developing its culture, education and economy and said to be leading in the digitalized world, it is noted to be a pagan nation with a fragile and sensitive independence and a declining population. It is interesting to note also that the Estonians instinctive sense of national duty, stem from decades of painful occupation and observation has been that all Estonians are compulsory required to wear reflectors at nights. Will the State expect all Jamaicans to wear reflectors also?

 The government has clearly trampled upon the fundamental rights of Jamaicans and the NIDS must be abolished with all speed.

 We are calling on all Jamaicans, whether in Jamaica (2.7m) or in the Diaspora (2.7m) to sign this petition now to raise your concerns with the Jamaican government about the NIDS and to lend your voice to the effort to prevent the implementation of a draconian, intrusive and invasive system that possesses sinister elements.  Briefly, the salient reasons for rejecting the NIDS are:

·      Breach of privacy rights;

·      No constructive consultation;

·      Prevents the citizen from giving explicit consent;

·      Prevents the citizen from withdrawing his or her consent once given (the right to be forgotten)

·      Heavy penalties for not registering for the NIDS;

·      Ultimately transferring all of your fundamental rights to the State

 If you fail to engage and prevent its implementation the magnitude of the implications for not doing so is too great to contemplate.