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Data Protection Coming

The Cayman Islands is moving towards developing legislation to regulate how personal information is collected and processed by all businesses and organisations.

This new law will also ensure that individuals are able to access information about themselves that is held by government entities and private sector groups. It will also require that such data is accurate.

For the past two months a Cabinet-appointed data protection working group has been meeting to consider a framework wherein such legislation might be introduced.

Chairman David Archbold, from the Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA), says the group is presently reviewing laws from other jurisdictions that it feels may be relevant to the local situation and is developing a policy recommendation.

Explaining that data protection mandates a comprehensive, principled approach to protecting personal data, Mr. Archbold says "The law will impose requirements on 'data controllers' to handle personal information fairly and lawfully."

He explains, "Personal data may only be collected, used, stored and accessed for specified purposes, and must always be adequately safeguarded. Data controllers will be accountable for complying with these principles and liable for breaches, such as unauthorised use or disclosure."

In early 2010 the group will submit recommendations to the Cabinet Secretary and Attorney General for an approach to the introduction of such legislation, including how best to monitor and enforce compliance. It will also prepare a paper on key issues for public consultation.

A critical consideration for members is that the proposed law be able to work alongside existing laws with privacy and access provisions, in a manner that supplements those existing protections.

As an example, the FOI Law currently allows individuals to access their own personal data held by public authorities and require annotation or amendment of incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading information.

It is proposed that these specific provisions will instead be provided for in the Data Protection Law and be extended beyond government to any entity holding personal information.

Members of the working group include representatives from the Attorney General's Chambers; the Freedom of Information (FOI) Unit, which facilitates the implementation of the FOI Law within Government; the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) and the Information Commissioner's Office -- the independent appeals agency responsible for oversight and enforcement of the FOI Law.

Others are drawn from civil society and professional organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Law Society, Banker's Association and Caymanian Bar Association.