Latest update June 2nd, 2023 12:49 AM
Mar 20, 2023 News
– says programme must be backed by proper planning, legal framework
Kaieteur News – The Alliance For Change (AFC) has raised concerns about the Government’s recent announcement that it has entered into US $34 Million contract with a German company for the production and roll out of an electronic citizenship card that will consolidate the data of the holder into a digital format.
The party said that while it takes note of the ideals and benefits of the digitized system, it is concerned with the manner in which the Government is rolling out the project.
In a release to the press over the weekend, the AFC said, “We are quite aware of the power of technology if implemented in a cohesive manner and with the requisite legal protections, to improve access to government services, the ease of doing business and ultimately the development of a strong robust economy and overall growth and development. What is of grave concern with regard to the E ID announcement is the piece meal approach to what should be a clearly defined structured approach to a complex issue”
According to the AFC, moving our paper-based systems in Guyana into the digital world of the 21st century is no easy feat and must be carefully thought out, planned and implemented.
The party said: “This must be based on a clearly articulated policy backed by an action-oriented road map for implementation. Neither of these has been presented to the people of Guyana. The ramblings we have heard refer to work permits and immigration issues for the most part and fail to provide a cohesive eGovernment approach…”
The AFC went on to note that the eGovernment approach should include plans to implement the following: eServices – which seeks to improve the delivery of government services to citizens through an enabling ICT based environment eparticipation – which reduces the digital divide – in Guyana between the hinterland, poor and remote communities, across our 10 regions and internationally for our diaspora especially eAdministration – a secure computing environment for the Government of Guyana in keeping with industry standards, a whole-of-government approach with interoperability among government agencies.
According to the AFC, the recommended approach should also start with broad consultation where Government lays out their holistic e-Governance agenda and identifies the key and enabling building blocks of the proposed system.
“An e-ID should be just one of these blocks and others would include – e-health, e-education, e-agriculture, e-tax, e-police to name a few. Integration with other digital systems such as our passport issuing and border control, birth and deaths registries are to also be considered. It remains unclear the integration of this e-ID system with GECOM’s systems and the opposition’s call for the use biometrics for identification at place of poll. A national programme of this magnitude would need to start off with the digitization of our registries.”
Further the party said, “This e-ID project ideally should form part of modernizing the General Register Office which is the entity responsible for Guyana’s civil registry. “
The AFC explained that the GRO’s legislation may need to be updated for this level of digital modernization in addition of a comprehensive range of legislation will be required in addition to data protection and cybersecurity.
The party noted that many countries have passed legislation regarding data storage and protection including prohibiting the storage of citizen’s data outside of the national territory.
“Where is Government’s public articulation of systems and assurances that will guarantee the rights of all Guyanese?” the AFC asked. The opposition party notes that at a minimum, citizens must also have rights like those guaranteed under the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
The AFC stated that the party must be able to know which individual or Government Agency has accessed their personal data, when and for what purpose.
The penalties for illegal access to citizens’ data should also be highlighted. Given this scope major fundamental issues have not been addressed in the public domain to date and are totally missing from what should be an intelligent, informative discussion on a national issue.
As such, the AFC believes that this is not just a coincidence but a deliberate attempt by the PPP not to be transparent as is its modus operandi.
The party notes that there has been no public information programme to inform, educate and engender trust in such a system targeted to the people of Guyana which will require access to ones most private personal data.
“This project also did not come to the Parliament for the requisite discussion and scrutiny. These omissions are all too glaring to be accidental and therefore we can only conclude this is the disdain with which this government holds its citizens which it is supposed to serve,” the AFC noted in the statement.
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