Stronger rights for individuals when it relates to the processing of their personal data is just a fortnight from coming into force in the Bailiwick and local companies are being encouraged to engage positively with the new legislation.
Guernsey’s new Data Protection Law (the Data Protection (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2017 [the Law]) will come into force on 25 May 2018, the same day as the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect across the European Union. The local legislation reflects the new requirements of GDPR which extend the rights of individuals, providing them with greater control over their personal information. The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) is urging all organisations locally to review their data handling practices to ensure that they are ready for the changes ahead.
Emma Martins, Data Protection Commissioner, confirmed the legislation is a key step towards protecting individuals by ensuring higher levels of transparency in relation to data processing activities as well as stronger remedies for breaches.
“This new law gives all of us strengthened rights allowing everyone to have more understanding and control over who has their information and what they do with it. It also sends a strong message to businesses that we care what happens to our data and that respecting those rights promotes the trust and confidence needed in any business environment.
“It is increasingly a way for businesses to differentiate themselves from their less-enlightened counterparts and so can become a competitive advantage when done well.”
Mrs Martins confirmed that for all local organisations, large or small, compliance should be viewed as an integral part of how they operate. Customer data is a key asset for any organisation and should be treated as such. Ensuring client information remains secure and accurate is as much about running a successful business as it is about complying with legislation.
The ODPC is currently working on an internal implementation project to ensure it is ready to deliver on its new duties under the Law which includes the provision of support and assistance to local businesses and representative bodies.
“There is, unfortunately, a great deal of misinformation and a significant number of myths in relation to data protection reform, so both businesses and individuals should consult our website and ensure they seek advice from appropriately experienced advisors.
“I am also delighted that our new law places the Bailiwick alongside some of the most advanced jurisdictions in the world,” Mrs Martins added. “We have a highly experienced Chair and members now in place and the Bailiwick should be deservedly proud of the significant progress made in respect of these reforms given the ambitious timetable.
“There is still much to do and we want to ensure we continue to work hard in supporting local businesses achieve the highest levels of compliance which will be good for individuals, business and the jurisdiction as a whole.”
The inaugural meeting of the Data Protection Authority will be held on Friday 25 May, the day the Law comes into force. A launch event has been scheduled for later that morning at the Old Government House Hotel at which local government, the legal profession, finance industry and commercial organisations will be present along with the Chief Minister and all members of the new Authority.