House Passes Data Protection Bill

Jamaica News: The Data Protection Act, which will enshrine, in law, measures to protect the privacy and personal information of Jamaicans, was passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (May 19).

The Bill seeks to define the general principles for the treatment of personal data and provide for transparent oversight that will enable the public and private sectors to strengthen the protection of personal information.

In her contribution to the debate, Attorney General, Marlene Malahoo Forte said the legislation would have to be kept under constant review and update.

She endorsed a recommendation for targeted public education, noting that this should not “only be on the rights that are conferred in the law but also in respect of the obligations”.

“In this regard, I just want to point out that when laws require the kind of public education that this will require and the kind of retrofitting of government and elsewhere, usually different provisions can be brought into effect at different times, and that is exactly what this law has provided for,” she added.

The recommendation for a public education campaign was suggested by Opposition Spokesman on Information and Technology, Julian Robinson.

Mr. Robinson noted that one of the most effective ways to ensure that the Data Protection Act is implemented well is for all citizens to know what their rights are under the Act.

“I am, therefore, calling on the Government to implement an aggressive public education campaign to inform persons of their rights. Concurrently, institutions need to be aware of their obligations and requirements under the Act,” he said.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Fayval Williams, in closing the debate on the Bill, also agreed with the recommendation for public education “so our citizens can understand their rights and those who collect our data and process our data can understand their obligation”.

“We are moving into a new regime in which or personal data ought to be thought of in the same way as we think of our physical property and the ownership and the interest that we have in that. We have to have that same ownership interest in our personal data and to understand that it doesn’t matter who generates the data about us, it is our data and we have a right to access that data,” she said.

The Data Protection Bill provides guidelines on how personal data should be collected, processed, stored, used and disclosed in physical or electronic form.

It requires that data should only be obtained for specific lawful purposes, with the consent of the individual, and not to be further used or processed in any way incompatible with the original purpose.

The legislation also stipulates that the data collected must be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; must not be held for longer than is necessary for the original purpose; must be protected using appropriate technical and organisational measures; and be disposed of in accordance with the regulations.

The Bill further provides that data must not be transferred to a State or territory outside of Jamaica, unless that State or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of the individual from whom the data has been collected.


Source: JIS News

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