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PM remarks on data protection

Prime Minister Perry Christie addressed attendees of the 2nd National Data Protection Symposium in Nassau this week. Read his remarks here. 

Friday, October 10, 2014
Friday, October 10, 2014

Here follows the opening remarks by Prime Minister Perry Christie at the 2nd National Data Protection Symposium, Melia Nassau Beach Resorts, Cable Beach, October 9, 2014:

It is my pleasure to bring opening remarks at this 2nd Annual National Data Protection Symposium.

It is noteworthy that the Commissioner seeks to bring about a coordinated approach to data protection which encompasses the involvement of all of the relevant stakeholders. This year the Department of Information Technology joins the Cyber Crime Unit of the Royal Bahamas Police Force in partnering with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner to deal with, what many would say, has now become an international issue of great concern; data protection.

The theme this year “The 7th Data Protection Principle: Personal Data Security Offline and Online” places emphasis on the need to provide appropriate and adequate safeguards to ensure that each individual’s personal data remains safe and protected.

In 2003, my Government introduced a series of e-commerce legislation designed to facilitate the development of e-commerce and e-government, including the Electronic Communications Act and the Computer Misuse Act. Also, in that year my Government released an Electronic Commerce Policy Statement, which articulated the strategy for transforming the Bahamian economy into a digital one. This Policy underscored the Government’s commitment to be globally competitive and put in place the necessary information and communication infrastructure to sustain electronic business activity.

Technology significantly impacts the way we conduct business and its influence will continue to grow. It is of paramount importance that emphasis is placed on data protection, as The Bahamas is a data intensive jurisdiction. Our main industries include Tourism, Banking and Financial Services. Visitors and investors want to know that their personal information, used during the processing of their visits and investments, remains secure and not open to unauthorized access, disclosure and loss.

I note, with great interest, that this forum addresses one of my Government’s mandates for the Office of The Data Protection Commissioner and related entities, which is to make The Bahamas a preferred destination for data relocation services. This Symposium will commence this discussion formally and speakers have been asked to speak to this possibility and to pinpoint what other measures are necessary to move our jurisdiction further in this regard.

We live in an information age. It is no secret that the public is indeed calling for more open governance. My Government has formed a special task force chaired by Attorney General, Sen. the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson and the Minister of Education, Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald, to oversee this process. The Data Protection Commissioner sits as a member of this working group. This task force meets regularly and will in due course advise the Government on the way forward.

My Government notes the expanded role the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) will have to play in a new and reformed Bahamas. With the implementation of VAT, FACTA and the proposed implementation of the Credit Bureau of The Bahamas, there will be an increased need for the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, to ensure that each individual’s personal information is indeed protected and secured.

Forums, such as this one, are very necessary to enable the relevant stakeholders to come together to deal with the hard issues and make informed decisions regarding various national issues in our country. The breakout sessions are specially designed to facilitate and address various hot button national issues such as Freedom of Information and Value Added Tax, which directly impacts the collection, use, keeping and disclosure of an individual’s personal information.

I commend the Data Protection Commissioner and her staff for their efforts to ensure that The Bahamas keeps up with the international community in ensuring that each individual’s personal data remains protected and secured. The Data Protection Commissioner was recently featured in the ACAMS TODAY Magazine: Women in AML Showcase for her work in this field.

Finally, let me congratulate all of the Honorees , Mr. Felix Stubbs, General Manager, IBM; Mr. Leon Williams, CEO, BTC; Ms. June Collie, Director of Information Technology; Dr. Raymond Wells, Deputy Director, Information Technology, National Insurance Board and Sergeant Dale Strachan, Hi-Tech Crime, Royal Bahamas Police Force, who are being honoured during the Recognition Luncheon. Collectively, you have made a tremendous contribution to the advancement of Information Technology in The Bahamas. On behalf of the Government, I say thank you for your contributions.

It is now my honor to declare this National Symposium officially open.

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