National identification cards could be rolled out within the next 12 months, with a population database coming online before the end of the year.
Minister of Commerce Joey Hew announced the new timelines during government’s press conference on 23 June. He said the COVID-19 pandemic had shown the importance of digital services and the digital economy. The lockdown measures had specifically highlighted the current absence of a national identification system as an important area that could be improved.
Hew said a team working on e-government initiatives has made significant progress on the implementation of a population register and a national ID system.
“It is anticipated that this will allow for the issuance of national IDs starting in the second quarter of 2021,” he said. “The population register is still on track for launch in the fourth quarter of this year with the majority of the technical solutions currently implemented and ready,” the minister said.
The launch of national ID cards requires the completion of the population register, supporting legislation and the procurement of a suite of services, equipment and software. The population register will enable government entities to check basic information – from immigration status to vehicle ownership – at source, rather than residents having to provide information that the government already holds.
However, the information to which the entity is granted access will be dependent on the justified needs and kept to a minimum, Minister Hew added. Residents will be able to view and request updates their personal data. Residents will also be able to share specific elements of their data and see who had access to it.
When Hew announced the national ID card and population register last year, he noted that the aim is to make it easier for people to access e-government services. For Caymanians, the cards could also contain voter registration data.
The population register will be created from the general registry, immigration and work permit systems and cross-referenced with electoral roll and drivers license data.