Just before the end of 2022, VP Bharrat Jagdeo announced we’d be entering the brave new world of universal digital IDs. He said Government would soon be issuing new digital ID Cards with the assistance of Dubai technology company G-42. More germanely, “the ID Cards will have a secure chip which can store data, including blood type, date of birth, driver’s licence and taxpayer’s identification number.” As such, it will be integrated into the data banks of a host of our Government institutions, including the GRA. Eventually, Guyana would be sourcing e-passports, which can be used at our airports for paperless entry into the country. The UAE would be providing 90% of the funding, while Guyana would fund the remainder.”
Well, a contract has been signed, and suddenly our citizenry has woken up, and some of them are up in arms. The Opposition has weighed in to point out that such an undertaking should’ve been laid and debated/discussed in the National Assembly. Now, this is exactly what a responsible Opposition in a democracy ought to be doing – insist on getting involved in matters affecting the country, so that they can possibly show that they have better ideas than the incumbent Government!! Not calling for treason!!
Digital IDs are the latest tools to assist Governments in serving their citizens. Right now, there are digital identity programmes in Estonia, Belgium, Pakistan and India, and at various stages of development across Africa and the world. As was indicated by VP Jagdeo, there are a host of accepted and recognised real-world benefits. From airports to health records’ systems, technologists and policy makers with good intentions are digitising our identities, making modern life more efficient and streamlined.
Governments seek universalised Government services, while the banking, travel, and insurance industries aim to create more seamless processes for their products and services.
But as we’ve seen from the 18th century, technology’s a two-faced creature – there are always downsides that weren’t visible at the onset. And the more heads at the table from the beginning, looking over the deal, the better. For starters, we already have near-perfect facial recognition technology and other identifiers – from the way we walk and breathe to irises. Biometric databases are being set up in such a way that these individual identifiers are centralised, insecure, and opaque. Then there is the capacity for geo location of identifiers — that is, the tracking of digital “you” — in real time. A constant feed of insecure data from the “Internet of Things” may well connect you (and your identity) to other identities and nodes on the network without your consent. That’s not good for our right to privacy!!
Your Eyewitness is kinda confused with the hold-me, loose-me strategy of LoO Aubrey Norton. Here it is, he’s the leader of a mass party that’s in the business of collecting as many votes as it can. So, could he tell the nation why he’s tying bundle with a bunch of old men who are trying to recapture their glory days from the 1970s?? Or explain to the visiting seven-member US Congressional Delegation – here to observe the Exxon operations – why he’s not condemning the call for the army to overthrow a Government the US certified as democratically elected??
Norton’s trying to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds when he said that while he wouldn’t use the treasonous words, he understood the frustrations that led to the words. They were protected by “free speech”!! But Norton has been around the block and back where politics is concerned. He knows that free speech doesn’t confer the right to yell “FIRE!!!” in a crowded theatre.
Much less, “Army Coup!!”
Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn’s playing it cool on the treasonous words. He knows he and the administration’s being baited!! He said he’ll allow the law to take its course!! In the meantime, let them swing in the wind!!