Privacy sector: a ‘boom industry’

  • Privacy Commissioner: Alexander White (Photograph supplied)

    Privacy Commissioner: Alexander White (Photograph supplied)

A network of privacy experts could develop in Bermuda after the introduction of legislation designed to protect personal information, the island’s new Privacy Commissioner has predicted.

Alexander White explained that the sector was a “boom industry” and that he hoped people would be inspired to enter the field. He added that residents could become trained in privacy legislation and contract themselves out to businesses.

Mr White said: “That’s something you see in other places. Probably the biggest recent example is the European General Data Protection Regulation.

“You see a lot of consulting organisations that came out with privacy as a service, where they were helping different types of entities, based on their specialities, to get compliant with whatever the law may be. I think there is a lot of possibility for that.”

He added: “I’ve talked about privacy being an empowering right for individuals, but I think there is a lot of potential for economic empowerment as well.

The Personal Information Protection Act 2016 ruled that a Privacy Commissioner would be appointed by the Governor after consultation with the Premier, who must first consult with the Opposition leader.

Appointments last for five years and can be made for a second term, although the term immediately after the commencement of the legislation could be shorter.

“Pipa requires organisations to name privacy officers, who better than someone from the local community, someone who has an interest in compliance and ethics or business analysis or something like that?

“It’s going to be one of my ambitions to try to train up that local workforce and host events and be a resource to speak with different individuals about how to make privacy a career, because not only is it going to be a great opportunity here in Bermuda, but also for anyone looking to go abroad.”

Mr White said: “We’re going to see an increase in demand over what’s already a tidal wave of demand so for anyone who’s looking for a boom industry, it really is.”

Mr White said: “My goal is, no matter what, whether it’s three years or eight years, to be able to train a Bermudian to take over, of course.”

He added he hoped to recruit a deputy commissioner and an office manager and expand in time to include investigators and communications officers to help inform the public.

Mr White believed that some organisations might find aspects of the legislation a problem, dependent on their size or scope.

He explained: “Organisations where maybe they don’t have a lot of personnel, I think might be the ones who struggle the most, because they’re already being asked to do a lot.

“It can be difficult to say ‘OK, now I have to designate someone as a privacy officer, what does that really mean?’. Part of what I’m hoping is that we can encourage a local industry of experts, who can help out, not only the multinationals, but also the small and medium-sized enterprises, to help them understand what their responsibilities are.”

Mr White added: “It’s not reasonable to ask an organisation to bankrupt itself to try to protect personal data. But you need to ask the question, does our business practice require collecting everyone’s Social Insurance number or collecting every health information number, do we really need all of that?”

He said: “You can’t go around telling your cousin to delete their information about what you guys got up to when you were children, it’s just impractical when the community is as close-knit as it is.”

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Published Feb 20, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 20, 2020 at 7:06 am)

Privacy sector: a ‘boom industry’

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