That data vulnerability

In this publication we have encouraged the highest protection of data usage in every sphere of life, whether at the workplace or in our daily use of phones and computers. The partnership between Jamaica Computer Society and Digital Life has generated consistent messages and guidance to ensure better education about the importance of data security.

We are well aware that the technology drive launched in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic has opened up various areas of concern for consumers, businesses and governments. We also know that confidence is paramount if we are to mobilise the entire country to do battle with the pandemic, and achieve an unprecedented threshold of embrace for the measures needed to win this fight.

Uppermost in our minds is the scepticism surrounding the roll-out of vaccines in the fight against COVID-19. Though we vaccinated for childhood diseases, as adults we now have a choice to make. We must each decide whether we wish to be immunised against the virus that has, since 2019, wreaked such havoc. Uncertainty breeds an environment that could have severe consequences for our health.

It is the kind of uncertainty that could also affect how we feel about trusting personal data to a government system intended to help us get better, speedier and more convenient services. The steps to be taken to get a national ID system (NIDS) in place are not likely to be any easier in light of the red flags raised by recent data vulnerabilities.

The sophisticated among us may readily appreciate that there will be problems in the technological world. Still, the broader population relies on a higher level of confidence to agree that their vital information is in safe ‘technology hands’. Any loss of faith does the kind of damage from which it is very difficult to recover. Where there is continuing doubt, even the very best efforts will flounder.

One moderator on a talk show recently pointed to the importance of the Data Protection Act being in place ahead of NIDS’ implementation. Rigorous debate is essential, but even more important is the requirement for a national mobilisation of all the resources we can muster to ensure the broadest acceptance of the most progressive modern-day technology literacy programme.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of resource people in both the public and private sectors ready to respond to this critical call. The Jamaica Computer Society and the Jamaica Information Technology & Services Alliance’s pending merger could not be more timely since it brings together a phalanx of resource people with a common purpose.

Jamaica leads the world in many spheres. It can also be a leader on the technology front since many of the highly educated, experienced, and technology leaders have demonstrated world-class chops. A new generation of players is already building on that foundation to push us to even higher heights of engagement with the world.

We have the highest confidence in these technology leaders’ ability to safeguard the interests of the wider population.