Jamaica says biometrics program will help reduce identity theft

Government spokesperson Jacqueline Lynch-Stewart said that biometric data collected under Jamaica’s National Identification System (NIDS) will assist in reducing incidents of identity theft, reports the Jamaica Gleaner.

Lynch-Stewart, the Chief Technical Director for the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division, Office of the Prime Minister, said this data – facial image, fingerprints (10), eye colour and signature – was essential in safeguarding citizens from having their personal information stolen.

For persons who do not have fingerprints, an iris scan will be required, Lynch-Stewart added. “We anticipate a small percentage of our population will fall into that category; for example, persons who work in an environment where their fingerprints have been eroded (persons using chemicals and farmers).”

NIDS, which will go into operation in 2019, will provide a structure to enable the capture and storage of identity information for all Jamaicans. Under the program, each citizen will be provided with a nine-digit National Identification Number (NIN), which they will have for life.

NIDS will be the first national identification system rolled out in the Caribbean.

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