George E. Rodgers Data Commissioner Elect
In 2003 the Bahamas Government introduced a series of acts designed to facilitate the development of e-commerce – and e-government. Included in these was the Data Protection (Privacy of Information) Act.
The legislation ensures international recognised standards for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. In fact, the Data Protection Act provides a statutory framework for the universal standards for data protection as found in the OECD Principles on Privacy 1980.
In addition, the Act now in effect:
• places an obligation on data collectors and controllers to obtain information fairly and lawfully, use it in a manner consistent with that for which it has been collected and keep it for specific purposes and periods;
• provides for the security of data collected, and no unauthorised disclosure.
• grants data subjects the right to be provided with information kept on them upon request, and to have inaccurate information erased or rectified.
• provides for the prohibition against unauthorised transborder data flows to jurisdictions which have inadequate data protection measures in place.
The Government has announced the appointment of the first Data Protection Commissioner, with responsibility for the administration and enforcement of the provisions of the Act. The appointment of Mr. George E. Rodgers is effective as of April 2, 2007. In recent media interviews, Mr. Rodgers pointed out that The Bahamas now has the necessary data protection legislation which the international community recognises. Duties of the new Data Commissioner will also include investigation of any contraventions of the legislation, and to provide information to the public about the legislation. On the latter point, Mr. Rodgers say one of the more important action steps in the immediate future is to “get the information out to the public that a privacy law is in place.”
Mr. Rodgers also expects that the Data Protection Act will increase The Bahamas’ profile as an international commercial centre, potentially positioning it as a preferred jurisdiction for locating data services.