Digital ID bill passed in National Assembly to enhance national security

The consolidation of the biometric data of each citizen against the backdrop of a high-security framework will soon be implemented, as the National Assembly passed the Digital Identity Card Bill of 2023.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, presented the bill for its second reading to the National Assembly on Thursday morning.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC

“This is another fundamental step that government is taking in digitising business in the public sector and naturally, it will have an impact in the private sector and also moving our central government systems into an electronic and digital mode,” he stated.

The minister said the card will become a national medium that will enable persons to interact commercially with greater ease and efficiency.

Ease of access and efficiency in business transactions is critical in today’s modern and fast-paced economy. Guyana has been pursuing a number of initiatives across the public sector spectrum intended to make business easier, especially in relation to central government and the state apparatus. Such initiatives include the recently passed Electronic Communication and Transaction Bill.

The AG added, “Also, with the advent of our oil and gas sector, and the commercial expansion taking place in our country, the growth of our economy, and the influx of foreign investors, we need to protect our citizens and our systems, and we need to enhance national security,”

The implementation of this digital ID-card, coupled with the implementation of the principles outlined in the recently passed Data Protection Bill, will cohesively create a comprehensive digital reservoir of personal information.

“The card will draw from that pool, and this bill is to create the legal infrastructure that will govern the issuance, the operationalisation, the efficacy, and the use of the card,” he said.

The bill aims to establish a Digital Identity Card Registry for the collection of identity data of citizens 14 years and over, as well as for certain non-citizens, including skilled nationals of a Caribbean Community State. These cards will facilitate e-governance, enhancing government and other services for persons.

The registry will consist of two databases: one for citizens and the other for non-citizens.

According to the bill’s explanatory memorandum, the documents required for the issuance of a Digital Identification Card are a person’s birth certificate, a document to reliably identify the person and lawful authority to work.

Data which will be entered into the new identification card includes a person’s name, date and place of birth, photo or facial image satisfying the requirements for a photograph, unique identification number, sex, citizenship, fingerprints, and signature.

Moreover, protection of the data collected for this registry will be in accordance with the requirements under the Data Protection Act.

Earlier this year, government signed a US$35.4 million contract with German-based company Veridos Identity Solutions to implement the Single Electronic Identification System. This was in an effort to implement a robust national identity management system that focuses on the integration of identification services across government agencies, security, ease of use, and acquisition of IDs.