Government Moves to Create National Biometric Strategy and Action Plan

Government Moves to Create National Biometric Strategy and Action Plan

The government is pushing to set in place legislative guidelines that will dictate the use of biometric data collected from both the private and public sectors. As signatures are being replaced by fingerprints and face scans, the safety of personal data continues to concern citizens. The unauthorized use of a person’s unique characteristics can be exploited for financial gain, identity theft, or other malicious acts. To secure citizens’ biometric data, the Ministry of E-Governance, has embarked on creating a National Biometric Strategy and Action Plan. Chief Executive Officer, Jose Urbina, told us more. 

Jose Urbina, CEO, Ministry of Public Utilities, Energy, E-Governance: “The National Biometric Strategy and Action Plan is really a document that establishes a framework in terms of how do we proceed with several aspects that are important from a policy perspective to capture biometric data. As you know, biometric data plays a fundamental role when we speak about authenticating a user or a Belizean through unique features that they hold. And that’s the main purpose of this strategy, is to define the legal framework that we will be using to identify the skills and capacity in country, to really be able to handle such a system, to identify the systems and the technologies to use, to identify the processes that are required for capturing of biometric data, for the storage of biometric data. And also one of the most important aspects to define how do we secure and ensure that there are privacy protocols in place to safeguard this unique identification features of each individual and in this case Belize.”

Urbina went on to speak about the advantages of using biometrics and the end goal of the ministry’s endeavor. 

Jose Urbina, CEO, Ministry of Public Utilities, Energy, E-Governance: “Definitely. When we look at how, and you used a great example as it relates to passport, when we apply for a passport or when we renew a passport, your biometric data is required, right? Even when you visit a police station for whatever reason your biometric data is captured. So there are already entities within the public service or within government that is already capturing biometric data. And even when we look at the private sector, right now when you want to access some offices you really need to scan your fingerprint to get access to enter your workspace so that is biometric data also. And in some cases I’ve seen in the private sector that they’re using, they’re scanning your facial features for you to access particular areas within those offices. So biometric data is already being captured in country, both in the private and the public sector. So now how do we regulate? What policies do we need to put in place to protect that data, which is of utmost importance from a policy standpoint here at the ministry?”

Urbina added that the ministry wraps up consultations in March.

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