The Senate took up the new Barbados Digital ID and National ID Card on Wednesday with the promise that the new card will have general information that can already be found on the current National ID card and not any personal medical data.
Senator Kay McConney, the minister for smart technology, responded to several queries over the last few days on what the new ID will contain. She said the chip embedded in the card will only host relevant data used to identify the holder, and nothing more.
She told senators: “What we have done, is to make sure that what is in the chip, is really what is on the card itself. Which will include a digital representation of your photograph and other things, it will also have your place of birth, and it will also have the verification certificates that say yes indeed this is true and legitimate, and you are part of the national register, and you have got your issuing certificate that is part of that chip.
“No it will not have on health information, no it will not have on your address – there are certain things that will not be in that chip. Remember I said there are three things; what is on it that you can see, what’s in it that’s in the chip, [and] what can it be accessed by it.”
Senator McConney also revealed that Government has already had talks with representatives of the disability community to gain input as to whether people with disabilities wanted the new IDs to contain additional information on their behalf.
She said: “There was quite a debate as to whether or not we should have on the card, meaning that you can actually see when you look, whether or not we should put disability there. What that community determined as we were designing, they determined they want to have the option, because they were some persons who wanted to have it on, simply because they did not have the ability to speak and communicate with people, and so they wanted when they have to use their ID, for people to see right away that they have some type of particular disability.
“There are some persons who are on the autism spectrum who said yes they definitely want that because sometimes there can be that challenge. There were other members of that community who for various reasons said yes we want to have the option for people to know one, there is a disability, and we want the option ourselves to determine if we want the disability identified.”
In his response to the proposal, independent Senator Kevin Boyce welcomed the idea of a new security-enhanced national ID but urged the administration to have a robust educational campaign in place when the new bill is finalized, to combat possible misinformation that may arise.
Senator Boyce said: “With the misinformation with the vaccine rollout, with what we have seen in terms of the rise of conspiracy theories…I will refer to my group chat, I have done it in this house once before, I’ll do it again. I have some very close friends, all of whom I can say are educated beyond two and three schools. Even within that chat, occasionally a message would find its way, which causes me disappointment. These are educated Barbadian sons of the soil.
“So what happens when these messages find themselves in other places without someone to say this is nonsense, why are you posting this? It is clear that there is misinformation, it is clear that there is disinformation, if we are doing a new ID card, if we are doing an ID card with a chip, if we are doing an ID card with bio data, if we are doing an ID card where a vaccine is being rolled out at the same time, there are going to be questions from the public, and I wish the government the best when you roll it out because it is not how you start, it’s how you finish to counter the message that will be out there for persons who do not necessarily have Barbadian public interest at heart.” (SB)