Jersey and Guernsey join international GPEN network

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Jersey and Guernsey have joined an international network of enforcement agencies set up to share knowledge, practical experience and dialogue about issues relating to privacy and the flow of data between jurisdictions.

The islands have joined the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN) through the Office of the Information Commissioner in Jersey, and the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner in Guernsey.

The islands are by some way the smallest members of the network in geographic and population terms – other members include the US, the UK, the EU, Korea and Germany. But having successfully applied for membership to the existing members, Data Protection regulators in the islands will have access to a global network of expertise and practical experience.

With so much commercial activity within Jersey and Guernsey dependent on the seamless flow of personal information across borders, the relationship between regulators, legislation and enforcement agencies is increasingly important.

GPEN was created to strengthen personal privacy protections in this global context by assisting public authorities with responsibilities for enforcing domestic privacy laws strengthen their capacities for cross-border co-operation. The role of the network is to connect privacy enforcement authorities from around the world to promote and support co-operation in cross-border enforcement of laws protecting privacy.

It primarily seeks to promote cooperation by:

  • Exchanging information about relevant issues, trends and experiences.
  • Encouraging training opportunities and sharing of enforcement know-how, expertise and good practice.
  • Promoting dialogue with organizations having a role in privacy enforcement.
  • Creating, maintaining and supporting processes or mechanisms useful to bilateral or multilateral cooperation.
  • Undertaking or supporting specific activities.

GPEN seeks to be an inclusive cooperation network, open to any public privacy enforcement authority that: (1) is responsible for enforcing laws or regulations the enforcement of which has the effect of protecting personal data; and (2) has powers to conduct investigations or pursue enforcement proceedings.

Having successfully applied to the existing participants through the GPEN Committee, the Channel Islands are now participants of GPEN. Whilst this does not create any new legally binding obligations for the Islands, the co-operation serves to strengthen our approach on enforcement which is increasingly global in nature.

Emma Martins – who serves as Information Commissioner in Jersey and as Data Protection Commissioner in Guernsey – said that membership of the network was an important step for the islands.

“So much business that is done in the islands both in terms of financial services and the digital sector is dependent on the proper flow of information across borders,” she said.

“Changes in one jurisdiction can have implications for others on the other side of the world, and that’s why early engagement and understanding with other regulators is critical to us.

“Membership of GPEN will also enable us to benefit from practical experience and intelligence about developing trends and issues in terms of privacy and information.”