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EU data caution - Opposition spokesman urges focus on new rules that take effect today

Published:Thursday | May 24, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Tough, new rules to protect the personal data of residents of the European Union (EU) take effect today, and Julian Robinson, the opposition spokesman on science and technology, is urging Jamaicans to pay serious attention to the issue.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a sweeping law that gives residents of the EU more control over their personal data and seeks to clarify rules and responsibilities for online services with European users. The regulation expands the scope of what companies must consider personal data, and it requires them to closely track data they have stored on EU residents.

If someone in the EU wants a company in Jamaica to delete his or her data, send copies of the data, or correct an error, the local companies have to comply or risk a hefty fine. The maximum fine for a GDPR violation is €20 million, or four per cent of a company's annual global revenue from the year before, whichever is higher.

"The significance of this for countries like us, which are not member states of the EU, that is, 'third countries', is that we will only be able to continue to have personal data of EU residents transferred to us on the basis of an 'adequacy decision' from the European Commission," noted Robinson during his presentation to the Sectoral Debate on Tuesday.

"To get that adequacy decision, we will have to demonstrate that we offer a level of protection of personal data equivalent to that provided by the GDPR.