Editorial for 08 October: Data law needs consideration

Anyone who hasn’t noticed the new data
protection regime government is seeking to bring in need look no further than
the story on Friday’s front page to find just how much will be different with
this legislation.

The Friday report focused largely on changes
ahead for the media. However, the proposal will have wide-ranging effects on a
number of businesses and industries across the Islands.

We’re not really commenting on the totality
of those issues in this space. Some changes will be quite positive, others will
have a negative effect.

What we want to convince people of is the
enormity of the change the government is contemplating and the effect it will
have on every individual and business in the Cayman Islands.

Proponents of the bill and those that served
for more than two years on the data protection working group will argue that
this legislation is nothing new and has been the law in Europe for nearly two
decades.

What this group seems to have glossed over
is that, despite its status as a British Overseas Territory, the Cayman Islands
is not Europe. It is a much smaller jurisdiction with much scarcer resources
and entirely different issues when it comes to privacy protection and data
management.

The effects of privacy protection, an
individual’s right to know about their own personal data and their right to
access such is one matter. The adoption of cookie-cutter legislation from a
jurisdiction 5,000 miles away with hundreds of millions of residents and its
potential application to three Islands with 60,000 residents is quite
another. 

In addition, because Cayman has no direct
taxation, many businesses here are not as accustomed as those in other
jurisdictions to the kind of record keeping the new data protection law will
require. Since the penalties suggested for noncompliance can be steep, the law
could potentially put some companies out of business here.

All businesses and non-profits should pay
close attention to this legislation now; it will be too late otherwise.

 

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