House: new privacy law drafted
Bermuda is to acquire privacy legislation to protect people online and offline, Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons told the House of Assembly.
A draft of the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) “sets out how organisations, businesses and the Government may use personal information”, Dr Gibbons said.
The framework is a complement to the recently launched Public Access to Information Act, which restricts access to personal details even as it provides for public access to the Government’s information.
The draft has gone out for public consultation until August 17.
There will also be two public information sessions on the legislation, which includes “provisions for the protection of children’s personal information, as well as prohibiting the use of personal sensitive information”, the minister said, telling MPs that adopting privacy legislation would bring Bermuda in line with other jurisdictions.
“It details a set of internationally accepted privacy principles that reflect accepted standards of good business practices for the use of personal information.”
Various attempts have been made to implement informational privacy law in Bermuda; this model has drawn on legislation in Canada, the United States, Europe and elsewhere.
The Act will cover information in both manual and electronic form, and will require persons within organisations that handle personal information to be appointed to implement PIPA models.
Among the details deemed “sensitive” will be information such as race, ethnicity, disability and political views.
Organisations will be required to notify persons of the purpose for which their personal information is used — and such information will not be kept for longer than needed. PIPA will also cover the rights of individuals to delete their personal information.
Information must also be protected, with the level of security relevant for the type of information held, and any security breach that could adversely affect an individual must be reported to both an appointed Privacy Commissioner and the affected person.
Dr Gibbons told Parliament that there had been considerable change in this sector of law over the past decade.
The Government considered privacy “a key priority”, he said, and felt the time was now right to bring in laws protecting individual personal privacy while allowing for the conduct of business and the operation of the Government.
Explanatory notes inside the draft state that there has been considerable interest and movement in privacy law over the last decade, particularly due to the advancement of technology.
“The scale of data sharing and collecting has increased dramatically,” the notes state. “Technology allows both private companies and public authorities to make use of personal information on an unprecedented scale in order to pursue their activities.
“Individuals increasingly make personal information available publicly and globally. Technology has transformed both the economy and social life. Due to all this it is recognised that building trust in the online environment is a key driver to economic development. Lack of trust makes consumers hesitate to buy online and adopt new services. This risks slowing down the economy and growth.”
It continues to state that 97 per cent of those who took part in a recent survey considered the protection of their personal information as important.
The notes state that the draft model has been prepared so that an application for European Union (EU) adequacy could be made, allowing the unhindered transfer of personal information between Bermuda and any EU member state.
“This would increase economic opportunities for international business operating from Bermuda by helping to satisfy privacy compliance requirements and placing them on a level playing field with those organisations based in many of our competitor jurisdictions that are already deemed adequate.”