A national identification card could be a key part of a new e-government initiative, according to Cayman’s e-Government director, Ian Tibbetts.
In an interview during an e-Governance Academy conference this week, Mr. Tibbetts said he thinks a national ID should be part of the eventual e-government system, giving people access to government and private sector services.
A nonprofit group from Estonia, often cited as having the most technologically advanced government in the world, is in Cayman this week to host the conference with government and the private sector, aimed at helping to move more services online.
The Estonian foundation has worked with small countries to help boost online government services to make things easier and more accessible for civil servants and the public.
“You have to have unique IDs to support all the different users,” said Estonian trainer Annela Kiirats, pointing to the millions of people who have Estonian ID cards that serve as their key to accessing government and private sector services online. The card, which includes a photograph and a chip with a personal ID number, serves as the primary way people in Estonia access bank accounts and government services, such as tax payments.
The national ID card in Estonia is mandatory for anyone over 15 and has details like those found on a driver’s license, as well as a chip containing a personal ID number. That card, along with the ID number and personal online login information, is the key to all government services, bank accounts and other private sector services that require an ID.
Estonian trainer Mari Pedak told the group that the physical card offers another degree of online security. Each person receives a card reader that plugs into a computer to confirm their identity. Banks, for example, will allow people to log in for online services with a user name and password, but customers have to plug the card into the computer for transactions over 200 euros (about $184).
“You have to have strong identification systems,” she said, explaining the need for national ID in Estonia.
The unified e-government system in Estonia connects all of the various ministries with their different databases so the public can access health records, police files, tax bills and other standard government services. The online system also builds in transparency so the public can see who has viewed their personal information.
When it comes to protecting privacy, Ms. Pedak told the group, “No mistake is allowed in those areas.”
“We have very strong data protection laws, especially with the private sector,” she added.
“Data protection laws are imminent,” Mr. Tibbetts said. “The pressures are building for data protection, not only in the private sector but also the public sector.”
“We need to make sure the rest of the world can trust their data in this jurisdiction,” he said.
Cayman’s acting information commissioner, Jan Liebaers, a proponent of pending data protection legislation, said there are “serious privacy concerns” with the e-government proposal and government needs to get the privacy protections in place.