Business Telecoms company wants Data Protection Act implemented over 30-month period

Jamaica Observer:


TELECOMMUNICATIONS company, Digicel, is suggesting that the Government phase in the implementation of the proposed Data Protection Act within a 30-month period.

Digicel’s Legal and Regulatory Director Tobi-Ann Chang told Tuesday’s first full meeting of a Joint Select Committee (JSC) of Parliament reviewing the provisions of the Bill before its debate in the House of Representatives said that, in light of the proposed changes it introduces, “a phased approach to implementation is required”.

She suggested that phased implementation should accommodate the proposed Office of the Commission of Information, which will be charged with responsibility for overseeing the handling of personal data, being required to issue guidance notes on various aspects of the legislation within six months of its enactment, and compliance required within 30 months from enactment, or 18 months from the publication of the guidance notes, whichever is sooner.

The Jamaica Computer Society (JCS), whose submission was presented by attorney-a-law Grace Lindo, also contended that a year was too short to implement the Bill into law, even if its reduced regulation proposals were taken on board.

”We recommend a three-year period for implementation of the law,” Lindo told the 11-man committee, chaired by Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley, at the meeting at Gordon House

Chang said that Digicel recognised that the provisions would only be achieved if the legislation “appropriately and adequately” addresses issues specific to the area, and if there is also a “comprehensive and holistic regulatory framework” covering all areas.

She said that the issue of privacy and data protection was only one aspect of the legislative and regulatory framework needed to ensure that Jamaicans can reap the benefits of the move to online while, at the same time, being protected from exploitation.

“The other aspects include consumer protection, competition, taxation and national security,” she stated.

However, she pointed out that Digicel welcomed the initiative to implement data protection legislation in Jamaica, and hoped that it would drive more investment into the country, while protecting the rights and information of the citizens of Jamaica.

“We look forward to working with the Government of Jamaica and other stakeholders as this wider legislative programme is advanced,” she said.

The Data Protection Bill seeks to safeguard the privacy of individuals in relation to personal data, as well as normalise the collection, regulation, processing, keeping, use and disclosure of certain information in physical or electronic form.

Dr Wheatley said that private- and public-sector entities will need to implement the necessary technical and institutional support to ensure greater protection of personal data within their custody or control under the new provisions.

The JSC also includes: Marisa Damryple Phillibert, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, Franklyn Witter, Julian Robinson, and Mark Golding, from the House of Representatives; and senators Pearnel Charles Jr, Matthew Samuda, Kerensia Morrison, Donna Scott-Mottley and Sophia Fraser-Binns.

The committee will continue accepting submissions up to January 17 at Gordon House.

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