Sun | Apr 21, 2019

Urgent dialogue needed on Data Protection Bill

Published:Tuesday | February 19, 2019 | 12:22 AM

The EDITOR, Sir:

On October 10, 2017, the Data Protection Bill, “an act to protect the privacy of certain data and for connected matters”, was tabled in Parliament. During its introduction, the importance of expediting the process was reiterated. Like the rest of the public, Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) has an interest in this bill and the timeliness of its expedition.

The bill places an obligation on public and private entities to implement particular systems to safeguard their collection, storage and processing of data and specifically covers certain classes of “sensitive personal data” (that is, genetic or biometric data, and data regarding racial or ethnic origin, sex life, physical or mental health or condition, political opinions, philosophical and religious beliefs, trade union membership, or the commission or alleged commission of any offences).

After hearing submissions from the public in early 2018, including JASL, which has asked for improvements in the Bill to protect the most vulnerable in society, the public has heard nothing further on the bill.

JASL’s recent hosting of a multi-stakeholder consultation with civil-society and health-sector representatives on the Bill has raised some serious concerns about the lack of public education and necessary revisions to the bill, as well as a timetable for its passage.

Given that the health sector is to be severely impacted by this Bill, we deem it important and in the best interest of the public that the Government reopen the dialogue on the Data Protection Bill as a matter of urgency.

PATRICK LALOR

Policy and Advocacy Officer

Jamaica AIDS Support for Life

rmiller@jasforlife.org