His comments came in response to concerns of the high standards being placed on businesses to comply with protection of citizen data expressed by committee member and representative of St Andrew Southern, MP Mark Golding.
In responding to Mr Golding during the sitting of the Joint Select Committee yesterday, the Science, Energy and Technology Minister stated that he would ensure that under his watch any legislation that was responsible for the protection of the data and privacy of Jamaican citizens would be of the highest standard. Wheatley also unequivocally stated that “ In this digital age we must appreciate the value and importance of information to the lives and wellbeing of every citizen and ensure that those in custody of citizen data are held to account if breaches occur.”
Minister Wheatley went on to state that he was of the view that some of the fines and penalties that are being imposed were still not as stringent as they ought to be in order to ensure compliance and act as a suitable deterrent to careless handling of citizen data. However, it was his hope that at the end of deliberations the minimum penalties and fines applicable to offences under the Data Protection Legislation would be sufficient to discourage data fraud and incidents of identity theft.
Dr. Wheatley further sought to counter utterances by Mr Golding that the Data Protection Bill could be detrimental to the BPO Sector. In a statement Dr. Wheatley outlined that “separate and apart from the compliance requirements outlined for businesses under the proposed local Data Protection regime, BPO’s have also been mandated by many of their clients to comply with the soon to be enacted EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)”.
Dr Wheatley advised that “many local entities including BPOs, Financial Institutions, Insurance companies or any organisation in possession of EU citizen information will be subject to extremely stringent regulations and penalties instituted by the GDPR should they experience a breach of the data, and as such they would already be in compliance with measures in our proposed Data protection bill by the time it is passed into law.”
In concluding Minister Wheatley said his Ministry has begun issuing invitations to a range of interest groups to make submissions to the joint select committee in the hopes of having as much stakeholder input as possible for this landmark piece of legislation. “I hope for robust discussion and fruitful contributions from all stakeholders as we look to protect the data of all our citizens in our efforts to create a truly digital and knowledge based society”
The Data Protection Bill was tabled in parliament on October 3, 2017 by Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr Andrew Wheatley and is meant to secure the confidentiality of personal data held by government, business entities or individuals, and provides for the rights of individuals in relation to their data held by those entities.
- Countries: Jamaica