KINGSTON, Jamaica – Challenges could be on the horizon for the enforcement of data protection laws in Jamaica, especially with some company heads and their boards now having fiduciary responsibility to protect their clients' data.
That assertion was made by attorney Chukwuemeka Cameron, who is also the founder of Design Privacy, a consulting firm that helps individuals comply with privacy laws and build trust with their customers.
Addressing a tTech Data Privacy panel discussion held in recognition of Data Protection Day, Cameron said the Data Protection Act (DPA) seeks to safeguard the privacy and personal information of Jamaicans. But, according to the lawyer, there could be some challenges to the smooth progress and enforcement of the Act locally.
"So the primary challenge is CEOs, boards of companies, [and] individuals that operate in the space appreciating the fact that they are now fiduciaries and responsible for respecting and allowing their clients to enforce their [data] rights," Cameron indicated.
"It is a monumental mind shift," he said, adding "Privacy has never been a natural part of our corporate culture, but it is no longer whether it was a part of our culture or not, because not only do we have the constitutional right, we now have that legislation that has put the teeth behind it."
To that end, Cameron said the first hurdle that must be tackled is that persons, including those in the legal fraternity, must "understand the awesomeness of the responsibility and the seriousness of the legislation that is there to support it (data protection)."
Continuing, he explained, "Once that hurdle is overcome, the next... [step] is, 'Okay, we need now understand that all government agencies must have a data protection officer.'
"The next question is where are we going to find trained, experienced data protection officers (DPOs) to actually implement the standards described by the Data Protection Act?" quizzed Cameron.
"... And so, there is a lot of catching up to do, and so, personally, at Design Privacy, we were elated when December 1 came and the legislation was gazetted, and we now have the pleasure to be sitting beside our information commissioner," he continued.
Celia Barclay, an attorney with years of experience, was appointed to island's first information commissioner on December 1.
In that role, her responsibilities will include, among other things, having strategic oversight for the establishment of the office in keeping with the Data Protection Act (DPA).
Cameron highlighted there will be a "tremendous amount of work to be done" by Barclay in her new role.
Additionally, he said permanent secretaries and the government will need to acquire more data protection officers (DPOs) based on the laws under the DPA.
".. As soon as the permanent secretaries and our government understands that this needs to be done, I think the market will then start to rev up and start to put the support services in place, because even if you want to do it, where do we find the trained DPOs in circumstances where the legislation says that a DPO cannot and ought not to have any conflicting positions?
"So, this is not a job, for example, for a CIO or your head or IT or in-house lawyer, because the essence of the legislation, and the essence of the data privacy and the importance that it plays, is that it must be independent," charged Cameron.
"It must - when you see the fines that are attached to it - take priority in your other areas of operation," declared the attorney.