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NIA cannot continue to languish in pennilessness – Dr. Bediako

July 27, 2016, 1:37 p.m.

The problem of multiple collation of biometric data by a number of state agencies has been blamed on the moribund state of the National Identification Authority (NIA).

A Senior Technical Advisor at the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Dr. Grace Bediako said the NIA, which is legally mandated to collate biometric data of citizens, would have satisfied the data needs of all the other institutions if it was properly resourced to carry out its mandate.

In violation of the law establishing the NIA, multiple state agencies – the National Health Insurance Scheme, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, Social Security and National Insurance Trust, Accountant General’s Department, amongst other – have all been collating biometric data.

This situation is leading to unnecessary duplications and their attendant risks to proper planning, proper identification of citizens and data security.

“You cannot have 10 different or­ganisations collating the biometric data of the same group of people. It would simply not sit down well,” the Chairman of the NDPC, Prof. Kwesi Botchwey is reported to have said.

NDPC is, therefore, taking steps to encourage the establishment of an integrated national identification system which is believe to be critical to long-term national development.    

Commenting on the issue on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Wednesday, Dr. Bediako, who is a former Government Statistician, said, “we need to appreciate the security concern and the fact…not having a good identification system undermines security; having too many [biometric systems] undermines security; we need to bring it all together.”

But even more importantly, Dr. Bediako said “We need to really empower NIA; it is no use, really, to have an institution, give it good legislation and then leave it to languish in cash trap situation and this is what has brought this on.”

She said if the NIA had covered the whole country quickly when it was established in 2007, the situation of multiple registrations by various institutions would probably not have arisen.

The Acting Executive Director of the Commission of the Data Protection Commission, Teki Akutteh Falconer, said the situation raises serious data security concern.

Consequently, the DPC, she said is taking steps to audit the processes and procedures of the organizations that have collected citizens’ biometric data to ensure compliance with data protection principles and laws.

“What the audits are going to do is find out first of all, what information are they collecting? Are they using the right processes required under data protections laws to collect the information? Are their staff well trained and equipped? What are the security measures they have in place?

She said if any organizations are found not to meet the requirement, “we will then help these organizations meet the required criteria.”