There is concern the proposed $3 million fine for breaches of people's privacy under the National Identification System (NIDS) is not sufficient to guard against data leaks.
The issue came in for debate Thursday evening during the second public consultation held by the joint select committee of parliament reviewing the National Identification and Registration Bill, which will establish the NIDS.
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck noted that Jamaica has been trying to move away from imprisonment as punishment for crimes, reserving that penalty for persons who pose a danger to society.
However, Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith argued that there are persons for whom a fine would not prove a deterrent.
"If a person was incentivised to breach the obligation of secrecy for monetary gain, so if somebody was selling information for personal gain or for enrichment, it is possible - and this is how organised crime works - they budget for the risk versus the fine. But imprisonment is something which is very different. It is the only true disincentive for someone who thinks that money can be found elsewhere, whether to pay a fine, etc.," she pointed out.
Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte agreed the issue requires special attention.
She urged members of the public to provide feedback on the penalty for privacy breaches so that the committee can take the matter under consideration.