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Cayman Islands national digital identity register set to move ahead at a cost of US$9.6M

Cayman Islands national digital identity register set to move ahead at a cost of US$9.6M

The Cayman Islands proposed national identification card and digital identity register project will cost around 8 million Cayman Islands Dollars (approximately US$9.6 million) over five years, and make data protection a high priority, according to Cayman Compass.

Appearing together on the weekly talk show, “The Resh Hour,” Innovation Minister André Ebanks and Deputy Chief Officer Charles Brown made the case that the national ID registry was worth the price tag, in how it will make life easier and more efficient for Cayman residents looking to access government services.

Brown argued that the current system was “more system centred than client centered,” and relies on “Caymanians to walk around and submit five or six different documents to prove that it’s you and hope that government department accepts that information. For another transaction, with a different department, you have to repeat the steps all over again.” Brown said centralized identity information through a national digital ID would “link the different government systems, so that they speak to each other.”

The Cayman Islands’ rollout plan for a digital identity system differs in a significant way from similar but unsuccessful past proposals in Jamaica and the UK: it will be voluntary, and allow users to choose what data they share through their profile. It will also allow users to see who has accessed their profile, and why. Jamaica and the UK have since implemented voluntary digital identity systems for interacting with government agencies.

“I think you’ll begin to see more and more people just adopt this organically,” said Ebanks. He emphasized that a lot of work has gone into regulation around the system, including data protection safeguards. Brown added that the data will all be held within the Cayman Islands government, rather than being housed anywhere offshore—and that transparency was a key principle, “giving you control to see who has accessed your data in the register.”

“You can have a report of that information, you can see and query that information,” said Ebanks. “I think that’s vital to the integrity of the system.”

Signing up for the digital ID registry will be free. Users will receive a card with a QR code and contactless capability, as in tap-and-go payments. Legal permissions are in limbo until December, when the Identification Register Bill 2022 and the Identification Card Bill will go before Parliament. However, with some infrastructure already in place, Brown said the government is targeting a July 2023 start for the program.

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