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  • The Bill seeks to define the general principles for the treatment of personal data and provide for transparent oversight that will enable the public and private sectors to strengthen the protection of personal data.
  • The legislation also stipulates that the data collected must be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; must not be held for longer than is necessary for the original purpose; must be protected using appropriate technical and organisational measures, and be disposed of in accordance with the regulations.
  • Debate on the Bill has been suspended until the next sitting of the Lower House.

Legislators on Wednesday (May 13) began debate on the Data Protection Act, 2020, which, when passed, will enshrine in law measures to protect the privacy and personal information of Jamaicans.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Fayval Williams, who piloted the Bill during the sitting of the House of Representatives, noted that while the Jamaican Constitution has been amended to provide and protect the right to privacy, this alone is not enough given modern realities.

“Notwithstanding this amendment to the Constitution, modern jurisprudence has long recognised that simply providing and protecting the right to privacy is not sufficient to adequately safeguard such a right. Hence, there emanated the need for legislation to treat with the protection of personal data and information concerning persons,” she said.

Ms. Williams noted that promulgating data protection legislation has become even more important given the advancement in technology and the increasing ability to process, store and distribute data; the increase in electronic commerce; and obligations imposed by bilateral and multilateral agreements, specifically trade agreements.

The Bill seeks to define the general principles for the treatment of personal data and provide for transparent oversight that will enable the public and private sectors to strengthen the protection of personal data.

It provides guidelines on how personal data should be collected, processed, stored, used and disclosed in physical or electronic form.

The Bill requires that data should only be obtained for specific lawful purposes, with the consent of the individual, and not be further used or processed in any way incompatible with the original purpose.

The legislation also stipulates that the data collected must be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; must not be held for longer than is necessary for the original purpose; must be protected using appropriate technical and organisational measures, and be disposed of in accordance with the regulations.

The Bill further provides that data must not be transferred to a State or territory outside of Jamaica, unless that State or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of the individual from whom the data has been collected.

Debate on the Bill has been suspended until the next sitting of the Lower House.

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