NNP Statement – Data Protection Bill

PR –  The New National Party (NNP), hereby calls on the Government to withdraw the proposed Data Protection legislation and not to attempt to re-introduce it until consultation with all sectors of the Grenadian population is held in relation to its provisions.

The NNP believes that adequate protection of personal data and the implementation of measures relating to data security are vital in any modern democratic society .Whilst Data Protection legislation is desirable and necessary, a draft Bill that does not consider and take into account important aspects, is likely to cause harm, rather than achieve its objectives.

The lack of consultation and the failure to allow key stakeholder groups (including the business community) to provide input on the Data Protection Bill 2023, has left the New National Party no option but to object to its tabling in Parliament.  By way of background, the OECS circulated the initial draft legislation in 2021, on the premise that a consultation process would be held by Member States. The far-reaching nature of the Data Protection Bill, which will govern the protection, access to, and use of personal data, and sensitive personal data such as medical information, means that individuals# rights must be carefully safeguarded. Access to and use of personal data, particularly sensitive personal data, must be strictly ‘rule-based’ and must not be at the discretion of any person or group.

The adequate safeguarding of personal data affects the way in which information is held by most institutions – our banks, hotels, medical institutions, schools- and extend to micro and small business operators. Without adequate consultation and preparation of their systems and controls, these entities could be subject to penalties and fines impacting negatively on business confidence, economic activity, and investment. Authorising the access and use of this data must NOT be potentially open to politicians or be otherwise subject to abuse. An intensive process of consultations would benefit the existing draft bill so that its implementation and compliance would be far more widely embraced by and beneficial to society.

The New National Party anticipates the holding of these Consultations. We are committed to participating along with other Stakeholders and have already committed the resources necessary to do so. We therefore call on the Government to commence these consultations as soon as possible and to provide sufficient time for that process. Without these consultations, our concerns will be exacerbated by any attempt to ‘bulldoze’ it through the Parliament and will guarantee its failure to achieve the proper objectives.