Friday, April 19, 2024

Concerns about Data Protection Bill

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AS BARBADOS MOVES speedily to protect the privacy of citizens and visitors, some small entrepreneurs are concerned about whether they will be able to stay in business.

This was among the concerns raised yesterday during the second public hearing, before a Joint Select Committee, on the draft Data Protection Bill, 2019.  

The committee, sitting in the Senate Chamber and headed by Senator Kay McConney, heard from two entrepreneurs that the draft requirements were onerous for small and medium-sized businesses to comply with, aspects of the regulations appeared lacking or unclear, and the maximum fine and prison term seemed unjust.

Entrepreneur Antonio Hollingsworth called for a delay in the implementation of the penalties for three years. He also said some costs were onerous.

“Legal fees to a small business can be the entire revenue for the small business,” he said. whatsapp-alerts-bloc

While noting the importance of privacy legislation, Hollingsworth, a director of Bajan Digital Creations, said he was aware of at least one Government department whose privacy policy was “woefully inadequate”. He also said a Freedom of Information Act was necessary.

McConney, who is also Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology, said the urgency of implementing the legislation was in keeping with Government’s plans to transform the economy. 

“Public information is certainly a significant part of the work that has to be done,” she told the session.    

Cynthia Wiggins, who runs a start-up content marketing business, said costs, including administration and legal fees, “may become a deterrent for individuals [and] may be a little onerous”.

She added some terms and definitions should be clarified, and argued there was no consideration for online and transactional data.

Software engineer Shannon Clarke, in comments before the committee which were shared with the NATION, listed some of the requirements which “may prove crippling to many small businesses, including sno-cone vendors and any retail store”.

He mentioned the hiring and training of a data privacy officer, data processors and data controllers, as well as providing data audit reports.

The draft legislation proposes a maximum fine of $500 000, a term of imprisonment of three years, or both for certain violations. (HH)

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