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‘Game changer’ - JAMPRO president underscores far reaching impact of new EU data law

Published:Saturday | September 15, 2018 | 12:00 AM
President of JAMPRO Diane Edwards (second right), in talks with, (from left) Bryan Aikman, Dr Noel Watson and senior partner and international trade advisor, Global Partners International, Chad Blackman.

Jamaicans are again being urged to pay attention to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which took effect in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area in May.

Issues related to the GDPR were returned to the front burner last week, during a two-day Regional Data Security Conference themed 'Your Data, Your Rights: What Individuals and Companies Should Know', that was jointly hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce Jamaica and member company e-Biz ProTrain, at the Jamaica Conference Centre.

Chad Blackman, senior partner and international trade adviser to Global Partners International, argued that the issue of GDPR and its importance to regional states is vital.

"You would appreciate the fact that the GDPR is an EU regulation, and one might wonder what in the EU regulation has anything to do with me, but persons must be reminded that every day we trade with the EU, and in particular, we trade with citizens of the EU," said Blackman.

President of JAMPRO Diane Edwards, another of the speakers at the conference, described the GDPR as a game changer.

"I think the GDPR is a really important piece of legislation that really is going to force us to change the way we operate in Jamaica. That, coupled with Jamaica's Data Protection Act, is going to mean that we have to really look at developing a new respect for people's personal data and for the value of people's personal data," said Edwards.


Protecting Personal Data


The GDPR stipulates that business processes of personal data must be designed and built with consideration of the principles and provide safeguards to protect data and use the highest possible privacy settings to ensure that the data is not available publicly without explicit, informed consent and cannot be used to identify an individual without additional information stored separately.

Data subjects have the right to request a portable copy of the data collected by a processor in a common format and the right to have their data erased under certain circumstances.

"It gives the control to the consumer to a point of how the consumers want their data to be used, and that means that companies are now going to have to really up their act in terms of how they store, retain, use and manipulate data because it now means they now have to ask the consent of the person whose data they are keeping," noted Edwards.

She added: "That is going to be a critical change for businesses because right now supermarkets collect our data, government collects our data, all assorts of consumer-oriented businesses collect our data, but now they'll have to ask us how do we want our data to be used."