Sun | Dec 9, 2018

MAJ expected to present more concerns about Data Protection Bill

Published:Tuesday | February 27, 2018 | 12:00 AM

The Media Association Jamaica Limited (MAJ) is decrying the foreseen negative effects under the Data Protection Act related to the gathering and production of journalistic content. The MAJ is expected to appear before the joint select committee in Parliament today.

In a letter to the clerk of the houses of Parliament, Christopher Barnes, chairman of MAJ, following commendation on the efforts of the joint select committee on the draft bill said, "We are, however, deeply concerned about the chilling effects the practical application, as written, will have on press freedom, as well as the additional administrative burden it could place on media houses in carrying out their work."

Among other concerns cited, the MAJ argues against a draft provision that any information requested by the proposed information commissioner must be handed over. The MAJ contends that this could remove the journalist's or media house's ability to protect the identity of their sources.

Another concern highlighted by the MAJ is that, under the proposed legislation, a description of the personal data being processed is to be registered before publish. The MAJ contends that, "given the nature of the media business, it could prove very onerous if media were to be asked, on each instance that it handles personal data, daily, even hourly, to provide 'registration particulars', before the information could be processed."

The concerns expressed bear some similarity to those raised by the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), whose President Dionne Jackson Miller, in addressing the committee last week, called for the practice of journalism to be excluded from the act.

"The PAJ maintains that Jamaica's stringent defamation law regime already addresses this issue, and there is, therefore, no need for additional legislative restrictions," said Jackson Miller.

The act, which was tabled in House of Representatives last October, seeks to safeguard the privacy of individuals through the regulation of usage, disclosure and collection of data.