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Cayman Islands pass digital ID and ID card bills, Jamaica begins ‘zero-fail’ pilot

Cayman Islands pass digital ID and ID card bills, Jamaica begins ‘zero-fail’ pilot

The Identification Register Bill and Cayman Islands Identification Card Bill have both been passed by parliament after mandatory registration elements were removed. All opposition MPs voted against the legislation with a view to delay the process, despite the previous administration beginning it, reports the Cayman News Service (CNS).

The West Caribbean nation will now begin creating the digital register while continuing to raise public awareness of the national identity system.

At their second reading, the bills were still contested by opposition in the 21-seat parliament. They will still be subject to amendments at the committee stage. Premier Wayne Panton rejected opposition request to withdraw the bill to allow further public consultation, saying that as it will not come into effect until later in 2023, there would be no point in a delay.

Ebanks said the government had already conduct media and publicity work to reach the widest possible audience, reports the Cayman Compass.

The CNS reports that Deputy Governor Franz Manderson spoke about the surprising number of local people with no ID whatsoever, something he was made aware of when the government began “roadside clean-ups and pride training programmes.” He noted that some in the Cayman Islands cannot afford a passport or even the fee for the police clearance certificate, the first step for processes such as job applications and opening a bank account.

The British Overseas Territory has a population of around 64,000 people and is home to 65,000 companies as a major offshore financial center. Residents are heavily outnumbered by more than two million tourist arrivals each year. GDP at US$74,000 a year is one of the highest in the world and the CIA World Factbook says “The Caymanians enjoy a standard of living comparable to that of Switzerland.”

When eventually issued, the ID cards will be free the first time. The centralized scheme is projected to cost around CI$8 million (US$9.6 million), or US$150 per person over the first five years if everyone voluntarily enrolls. It is open to minors and registrars will be able to enter a child without a birth certificate, according to the text of the bill.

Users will have control over whether they have the ID, what fields they fill in, such as including a photograph or parents’ ID numbers, and any access to information on their profile will be time stamped. The physical card is contactless and the digital identity will allow online identity verification.

Unauthorized collection of identification information could lead to a CI$20,000 fine, as would attempting to access the register.

Jamaica sets expectations of ‘zero-fail’ as national digital ID pilot launches

Caribbean neighbor and erstwhile compatriot Jamaica is beginning the technical pilot for the National Identification Scheme (NIDS) with Prime Minister Andrew Holness aiming to assure citizens of the system’s security and government commitment to rolling it out, reports The Jamaica Observer.

Holness attended the opening of the first enrollment and card personalization center, at the Jamaica Post Central Sorting Office in Kingston. This had been expected at the end of August.

Holness said the digital ID system is one of the safest in the world: “We have to take measures, we have to put in place systems, and we literally have to operate on a zero-fail mission to protect your data because that is the only way we are going to ensure you sign on and participate,” as quoted by the Jamaica Observer.

The pilot is expected to be finished by the of the financial year and serve to obtain ICAO certification. The following financial year, all parishes will be involved. Twenty-four post offices will serve as NIDS sites. A mobile version will be available in future.

Jamaica launched ‘Operation Birthright’ in September 2022 to issue free birth certificates to 11,000 children and adults without the document to aid their NIDS enrollment.

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