The Minority in Parliament on Tuesday registered its disapproval of certain portions on the Data Capture (Registration, Protection of Personal Information and Privacy) Bill, saying it could create a parallel body that would be registering persons for purposes such as elections and citizenship issues.

This was when, Mr Kwadwo Mpiani, Minister for Presidential Affairs, moved the motion for the second reading of the Bill in Parliament.

The establishment of a National Identification Authority (NIA) aims at providing for a scheme of registration for the issuance of national ID cards as informed by the directive principles of state policy.

The object of the Bill is to establish a national identity register by creating a central database of individuals uniquely linked to a proven biometric identifier and automated fingerprint identification mechanism, for a scheme of registration of individuals for the issuance of national identity cards, protection of the personal information of the individual collected by the Authority for the exercise and protection of the privacy of the individual.

The Minority was of the opinion that it was important for the Bill to be separated to make it have full effect and unambiguous to all concerned.

In his contribution to the motion, Mr Haruna Idrissu, NDC member for Tamale South argued that the initial part of the Bill ideally looked at national identification, while the second part focused on the protection of the privacy of the individual.

“In my mind, Mr Speaker, I believe that these are two different issues that must be looked at separately as contained in the opening statement in the memorandum to the Bill. He said Chapter 5 of the 1992 Constitution Article 18 (2) indicated clearly the non-interference in the privacy of the individual and questioned what data was being protected.

He asked the Committee to look back and do a thorough work, stressing that there were blank portions in the Report, which must be quickly addressed.

Mr Idrissu had earlier asked the Committee to bring down the age of qualification for registration to four years instead of the six years being proposed, saying: “If left to me alone I would even say that it should be six months.”

Mr Mpiani said it was important for the age of qualification for registering under the national identification programme to conform with international standards.

“Mr Speaker we went round and solicited information on this and I must say that the international standard is six years and above.”

Mr Idrissu said the development of the law should be guided by history and the issue of citizenship must be examined adequately.

Mr Edward Doe-Adjaho, NDC- Ave Avenor was not happy with the fact that the National Identification Authority (NIA) was going to become a parallel body that would determine who was a Ghanaian and thus who could vote, since the Constitution said anyone who had proof of Ghanaian citizenship could register and vote.

“It is important for the Electoral Commission’s role to be taken through the backdoor and given to the NIA.”

He described the Bill as welcome, adding that it was good to develop an effective tax regime.

Other members welcomed the Bill and urged full support for it since it had several benefits to society, saying it would boost the nation’s readiness in providing information on its citizens when the need arose.

Winding up, Mr Mpiani said it would enhance the work the Births and Deaths Registry, where unscrupulous persons went about changing their names and acquiring vital national documents at will.

He argued that it had nothing to do with partisan politics and asked the minority not to kick against it.

Source: GNA