Jersey can benefit economically by becoming a ‘centre of excellence’ but more resources will be needed

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JERSEY can reap major economic benefits by becoming a ‘centre of excellence’, says the island’s Information Commissioner.

Emma Martins says new data protection laws offer positive opportunities, but that the private and public sectors need to ensure appropriate allocation of resources to ensure they are prepared for the legislation.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is due to come into force in May 2018 in Jersey and Guernsey. It will update data protection rights for the internet and digital age, controlling how governments and businesses process individuals’ information. It will also mean that businesses don’t face significantly different compliance rules if they are conducting business locally and across the European Union (EU).

Mrs Martins, who recently spoke at a Jersey Chamber of Commerce event on GDPR, said: ‘Data is ever more valuable economically and socially. Businesses are using data in innovative ways, while individuals use it for communications as well as to buy goods and services.

‘How that data are handled and protected is more important than ever. Being seen as a well-regulated, safe jurisdiction for data is crucial – especially when you consider the important role of the financial services sector and the growing digital industry.

‘There is no reason why Jersey, and the Channel Islands, cannot become a centre of excellence for data and benefit from all the economic advantages that come from that. The GDPR is an opportunity to develop a high professional standard in data protection compliance.’

Mrs Martins, who holds the role of Information Commissioner in Jersey (with responsibility for regulating Data Protection and Freedom of Information legislation) and Data Protection Commissioner in Guernsey, stressed the need for action from the private and public sector in relation to GDPR.

‘Businesses need to be ready for the new legislation and devote more resources to meet the requirements and the opportunities. The public sector also needs to be similarly prepared. The Office of the Information Commissioner is supporting both the private sector and the authorities, and a government review is underway looking at how this office can resource this work going forward,’ said Mrs Martins.