Fri | Apr 16, 2021

Gov’t mum on whether it snubbed JAMCOVID oversight

Published:Wednesday | February 24, 2021 | 12:26 AM
Matthew Samuda, minister without portfolio in the national security ministry.

Damion Mitchell/Integration Editor

The Jamaican Government has declined to confirm whether it had rejected a proposal for the JAMCOVID website to be managed by eGov, the state information systems agency.

According to Matthew Samuda, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, with investigations under way into the security vulnerability of the site, it is too early to address that matter.

WATCH HERE: Samuda at Gleaner Editors' Forum

There has been mounting pressure on the Government to account for the security lapse of the app, managed by the Amber Group.

The vulnerability resulted in the exposure of the personal records of thousands of travellers, including COVID-19 test results and passport information uploaded under the Government’s authorisation protocol.

At a Gleaner Editors’ Forum on Tuesday, Samuda said that all matters relating to the JAMCOVID app are being thoroughly investigated.

“I won’t get into the weeds, because at the end of the day, at this stage, we’re not at that place where I can tell you what was recommended from start to finish,” he said.

However, the minister said wherever it is found that there was negligence, the appropriate actions will be taken to ensure accountability.

“That’s the openness and the commitment of the Government,” he told editors and reporters via Zoom.

Since the Editors’ Forum, the national security ministry issued a statement saying the previously announced enhanced investigation and further monitoring have so far not revealed any evidence that the vulnerabilities identified were exploited for malicious data extraction or leakage prior to rectification.

“As in all sensitive matters, we encourage the public to refrain from speculation and thank you for your patience,” said a ministry spokesman in the statement, adding that the authorities were awaiting the outcome of the review.

In the meantime, National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang told Gleaner editors and reporters that in the first stage, steps have been taken to correct the vulnerability and pledged that changes in the management of the app would be effected if deemed warranted.

At the same time, Chang said the Government was continuing to check all its sites to ensure their security.

“We have the capacity to do that over the next few hours, and it will be done,” said Chang.

But Chang was defiant that the JAMCOVID saga had not shot confidence in the proposed National Identification System (NIDS) “bearing in mind that none of the critical associated government points were affected, for example, PICA,” the minister said of the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency.