The Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has defended the publishing of Barbados’ preliminary voters list on both the EBC and the Government Information Service’s websites this week.
After public outrage, the more than 5,000-page list was later removed from both sites. However, many concerned citizens argued that the damage had already been done as their personal information, including National Registration numbers (NRNs) and addresses, were already in a global space and potentially in the hands of unscrupulous people.
Chairman of the EBC, Queen’s Counsel Leslie Haynes, while noting that this was not the first time the document was published online, maintained that according to the Laws of Barbados, they are duty bound to publish it electronically.
He pointed to the amendment to the Representation of the People Act no. 25 of 2020.
“We are obligated to publish the list now electronically so that more people can have access to it,” he said this morning.
“Truth be told, who goes into the public library? The public library was once a grand building and now it’s a building next to Independence Square. The door is a 2×4; I mean, who goes into the public library? Who has the time to come to the electoral office? So in keeping with the times we move forward electronically.”
During a press conference hosted by the EBC to give an update on its election preparedness, Haynes acknowledged the concerns uttered in many corners this week regarding the publishing of NRNs and such like. However, he charged that “ID numbers are not private” as he made reference to them being published before the introduction of the digital age in public libraries, rum shops, the electoral office and other spaces and according to him, “the lists always contained the same information”.
Ramon Alleyne, another member of the EBC present at this morning’s meeting, also weighed the individual’s rights against the rights of the entire society in this matter.
He said: “There is no easy answer. Time is an issue in relation to this election, yes, and it is balancing those interests and doing the best in the circumstances we were given.” (KC)