FID warns of serious implications if agency is not exempted from data law
The Financial Investigations Division (FID) has told the parliamentary committee reviewing the proposed Data Protection Act that the legislation could have serious national security and investigative repercussions without certain adjustments.
It has asked that the FID be exempted from sections related to revealing data.
The FID, which falls under the Ministry of Finance, is mandated to detect and investigate financial crimes.
The Division’s Acting Director of the Legal Unit, Alethia Whyte, today told the Joint Select Committee that the FID carries out this function by processing data.
She noted that the agency utilises data it receives from overseas partners as well as Jamaican government databases, such as the one operated by the tax authorities.
Whyte said the information that the FID gathers has to be kept private.
While acknowledging that the proposed law sets out provisions to allow exemptions from disclosure in certain cases, she argued that these are not adequate.
Whyte said the Minister of National Security can grant an exemption certificate to an entity but noted that the issuing of the certificate can be challenged in court.
She argued too that this would put the minister in a precarious position and that someone who is the subject of an investigation may mount a challenge with the goal of obtaining information to thwart the FID’s investigation.
White was supported by committee member, Mark Golding, who argued that the implication would be serious.
Whyte further submitted that the FID is concerned about compromising its investigations if it complies with requests to disclose data it has collected.
The proposed law exempts disclosure where it is likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders.
But Whyte argued that the provision is subjective and can result in the agency disclosing information to defend itself in court against a request for disclosure.