Acting Information Commissioner calls on business owners to face up to their data responsibilities as GDPR and the Jersey laws come into effect

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The Office of the Information Commissioner’s (OIC) new structure, the new Jersey Data Protection Laws and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) all come into effect today, 25th May 2018.

Acting Information Commissioner, Paul Vane, has called on all business owners in Jersey to ensure they are aware of their data responsibilities and to lean on the OIC for support. GDPR is the first update to the EU’s data laws since 1995 and it reflects the way that our data is used in today’s world. The local Laws reflect the GDPR principles in requiring greater accountability and transparency of data controllers and providing enhanced rights for individuals in respect of how their personal information is handled.

‘GDPR is a transformative piece of legislation and businesses must ensure they comply from today. Monumental changes have happened in the worlds of digital and data over the last 20 years or so and we live in a very different world. This is a turning point for data protection laws. With so many digital channels and technological advances, we provide and create more data than ever before and it’s vital this data is treated with respect.

‘The protection of our data and ensuring businesses are using our information in a responsible manner is a huge issue that affects businesses large and small. In particular, we need to ensure that individuals understand that their data is a valuable asset and should not be abused by the organisations they entrust that information with. We also need to ensure that all businesses understand that the information they hold belongs to their customers and they have responsibilities to uphold.

‘We acknowledge that many local companies will not be fully prepared for the changes that come into effect today. But what is crucial is that these companies have a robust road map and action plan to meet compliance. This is the start of a new beginning and an opportunity to foster a ‘right first time’ approach with the customer as the focus,’’ said Mr Vane.

The structure of the OIC has changed to reflect the new data protection laws, forging greater independence for the Commissioner and affording greater powers. As part of the new set up, the Data Protection Authority has also now come into effect. Chaired by Jacob Kohnstamm, the Authority will serve as the interface between the Office of the Information Commissioner and government. This structure creates a clear distinction between the Office and government, and underscores the importance of the independence of the OIC.

Mr Vane said, ‘The new structure enables the Office of the Information Commissioner to operate with uncompromised independence. This will allow for greater accountability and transparency, and ensure the Commissioner is an effective and efficient regulator. This is vital in being able to successfully conduct our role.

‘As part of its significant structural transformation and increased remit, the Office of the Information Commissioner has the power to investigate and, where appropriate, fine businesses for abuse of data. Any fines collected will be reinvested back into the public accounts and we hope, where possible, will be used to improve education and awareness in data protection and the island’s digital development.’

The new data regulation means that the Office of the Information Commissioner will be busier than ever.

‘To ensure we can meet the demands of the new legislation and the extra enforcement and educational aspects of our work, the Office of the Information Commissioner will be increasing in size. This will enable us to take a more proactive stance and increase our capabilities both in terms of education and enforcement,’ added Mr Vane.

To find out more visit the office website at www.oicjersey.org or call 01534 716530.