Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Growth & Jobs | Invest in data protection officers - Thorpe

Published:Tuesday | November 20, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Sean Thorpe, president of the Jamaica Computer Society.

With the imminent passage of the Data Protection Act, Sean Thorpe, president of the Jamaica Computer Society, said it is critical that proper investment is made in creating a skilled workforce of data protection officers.

Pointing to the European Union's Data Protection Regulation that took effect on May 25, he said there are quite a few incidents which have shown that the misuse of their data in political, social and business campaigns, without the expressed consent of the living data subject or data owner, has severe financial consequences, including imprisonment for the breach.

Thorpe, who is also an associate professor at the University of Technology, said there are similar implications for Jamaica, unless there is compliance with or exemption from the legislation.

"The question then becomes whether in the globally connected space, the Jamaican public is ready or will be ready, when the legislation becomes effective. To answer this question, the assumption then is to ask if we have the human capacity of a skilled workforce of data protection officers (DPOs) to ensure compliance with the legislation," he said.

Thorpe argued that today's global society is a digitally transformed sphere and the jobs of DPOs represent one of the emerging skill sets for the market. He pointed out, too, that the role of the DPO represents one of those industry 4.0 and education 4.0 workplace jobs that the society has to prepare for.

"The global challenge is that there is not enough, by way of the number of data protection officers that are in the global workforce. The DPO's role cannot be confused with chief information officers (CIOs) or chief security officers (CSOs,) which are already existent to traditional brick-and-mortar companies," he said.

Thorpe added: "In a time where many companies have become completely virtual, the traditional CIO and the CSO are independent roles with different functions to that of the DPO. Arguably, CIOs, CSOs and DPOs will need to work together as a part of the new industry 4.0 workplace, but there has to be an avoidance of any overlap in the functions."

He said it is against this background that there will be a need to have comprehensive training programmes that look into both the education and certification that prepares the country's first set of DPOs.