Confidentiality law on way out

Much-maligned statute to be replaced

After years of internal government
and private sector bickering about the issue, it appeared Wednesday that
Cayman’s often-referenced and much-maligned Confidential Relationships
(Preservation) Law was headed for the history books.

“That piece of legislation has been
the bane of our existence since the 1970s,” Attorney General Samuel Bulgin told
the Legislative Assembly Wednesday.

Mr. Bulgin said government’s plan
is to place certain provisions of the confidentiality law within another piece
of legislation – known as the Data Protection Bill.

That proposal has been studied and
a report on the bill will be headed to Cabinet for review within the next two
weeks, Mr. Bulgin said.

The report on the Data Protection
Bill has not been made public. However, the bill is expected to generally set
out what information cannot be released with regard to government and
non-government entities, contractual agreements and the like.  It will apply to both public and private
sector entities.

The bill will have an effect on
Cayman’s current Freedom of Information Legislation, which defines what is and
what is not considered personal information. The FOI Law acts as government’s
guide to releasing information, but it does not apply to the private sector.

Data protection legislation is also
a necessary component if Cayman wished to implement a national ID system,
according to police officials.

The Confidential Relationships
(Preservation) Law was discussed before the LA Wednesday after members were
again forced to amend the legislation to meet international standards.

Mr. Bulgin said this time a minor
amendment to the law was needed to facilitate the voluntary appearance of
foreign nationals in local court matters.

“Under the mutual legal assistance
treaty, if a request is sent to the US for a witness, they can voluntarily
comply,” Mr. Bulgin said. “But they would require an authorisation that would
not breach the Confidential Relationships Law.”

Essentially, the current law is
simply delaying court matters and is creating unwanted perceptions about Cayman
being an unnecessarily secretive jurisdiction, according to lawmakers.

Opposition party MLA Alden
McLaughlin asked Mr. Bulgin when government planned to repeal the Confidential
Relationships Preservation Law to “avoid these perceptions”.

Mr. Bulgin said a task force had
recommended the repeal of the confidentiality law some years ago. However, with
the creation of data protection legislation it was decided that government
should wait and not attempt to amend the current law.

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