St. Kitts and Nevis’ legislators pass Data Protection Bill 2018

From SKNIS

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – Just hours after the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill 2018, the Data Protection Bill 2018 passed May 4 to promote the protection of personal data processed by public and private bodies.

Attorney General the Honourable Vincent Byron noted that there are many challenges faced in the technological world, hence, the importance of implementing such a bill. He said that it is important to adopt and adapt to the technological evolution, “while at the same time maintaining the best principles that pertain to good governance and the rule of law. What this means, Madam Deputy Speaker, is that with the increased access to information, that there must be a sustained effort to safeguard certain levels of information and to ensure that there are reasonable boundaries to protect the privacy of that information.

“Privacy is one of those concepts that is fundamentally protected by our constitution. What this translates to is an equally fundamental recognition of the need to set fences around the private information of [people] and the type of information that is made available to the public.”

He explained that the Data Protection Bill 2018 mirrored that of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. “Madam Speaker, the bill is largely derived from an OECS model and seeks to ensure that personal information in the custody or control of an organization, whether it be a public group like the government, or private organization, shall not be disclosed, processed or used other than the purpose for which it was collected, except with the consent of the individual and where exemptions are clearly defined,” he said.

“Over the course of our journey as a federation on the expansion of information technology, it has become apparent that large amounts of personal data are being collected both within the private sector and by the government. Whilst the practice of holding or using personal data is not new, when this is combined with current technology… it has become very easy to collect and store vast amounts of personal information,” added the attorney general.

He further added that “this Data Protection Bill thus creates binding obligations with respect to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information, as well as setting access rights. Additionally… the bill seeks to protect individuals by collecting their personal information and to follow certain policies and practices for sharing such information.”