Data Protection Commissioner
Currently in force in Guernsey is the Data Protection (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law 1986, which was based closely on the UK Data Protection Act 1984.
The 1986 law is limited in scope. It covers data relating to living individuals held on computer only.
In response to a Europe-wide initiative to update data protection legislation, and in particular to the enactment in the United Kingdom of the Data Protection Act 1998, a draft law is expected to be laid before the States of Guernsey (the Island's Parliament) later this year which will come into force in the early part of 2002.
The 1986 law provides for:
- the registration of data users;
- data quality principles;
- the rights of data subjects; and
- a supervisory authority.
In addition to these elements the new law sets out principles for the processing, retention and transfer of data. It also covers data which is held on relevant manual filing systems.
Personal data must be processed fairly and lawfully and subject to certain conditions. Sensitive personal data is subject to more stringent conditions.
The new law provides that personal data shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the Bailiwick of Guernsey unless that territory or country guarantees an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects in relation to the processing of personal data.
Finally, the new law affords enhanced rights for individuals with regard to access and compensation (but only if the individual can prove financial loss), among other things.
Transitional relief is available for personal data which is being processed immediately before the commencement date of the new law. A three-year transitional period will apply to automated data, while manual data will be subject to relief until October 23 2007.
Under the 1986 law the States Advisory and Finance Committee was the body responsible for data protection registration. The new law provides that an independent registrar, the data protection commissioner, will take on this role and have powers and duties similar to the data protection commissioner in the United Kingdom.
It is envisaged that the new law will bring Guernsey into line with the standards of practice and level of protection applicable in Europe, with a consistent approach across borders appropriate for the 21st century.
For further information on this topic please contact Sarah Wallis at Collas Day by telephone (+44 1481 723191) or by fax (+44 1481 724074) or by e-mail ([email protected]).
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