Just recently, the world celebrated Data Privacy day. January the 28th is the day designated for the annual celebration and observance of the importance of Data Privacy. Data Privacy Day has its origins in the United States and Canada in January 2008 following from the efforts in Europe with their Data Protection Day celebration and the day January 28 was selected for Data Protection Day to commemorate the January 28th, 1981, signing of Convention 108 which was the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection.
Since 1981, privacy and data protection have become essential elements for most business operations and a concern for many in our daily lives. As we continue to evolve into a digital society in which there is an increasing reliance on information technology, there will be an apparent need to upload, use, collect and share our personal information for our daily operations and transactions on digital platforms. However, as of consequence of our movement from a paper-based system to the globally connected digital platforms, is the increased risk and easier ability to access and use the information which is being collected, stored, and transmitted via these digital mechanisms. In a paper-based system, the emphasis was placed on simply ensuring the premises were secured, however, in a digital platform there are no physical structure and boundary as information transcends across countries. Hence, there is a need to adapt and ensure effective measures are implemented to place a firewall of protection against any potential invasion of the privacy and rights of those to whom the information relates to i.e. the data subjects.
Privacy has served as an important legal and psychological concept of human society almost akin to an innate feature of human existence. Therefore, as our society progresses to a digital domain that inherently facilitates convenience and ease of access, there should be also the advancement of discussions and greater awareness to ensure the protection of the fundamental rights of our societies that is privacy and more specifically data privacy and access is granted when the owner of the information permits.
Information based businesses are in a gold rush phase as information has become a leading global commodity akin to that of gold and money. Information is often being traded due to its expanding value and, at times, traded without the knowledge or consent of the data subject.
The Caribbean Credit Bureau is an information-based business and in the absence of specific regulations, we have adopted a standard of service which is premised on the fundamental principle that the consumers’ data is their own. Therefore, to use or access such data there is the need to acquire the consent of the consumer (data subject).
Whilst information is to be valued, it should also be protected. Thus, in addition to recognising the rights of the data subject to control their data, there is also the need to recognise and implement appropriate measures to ensure a high level of confidentiality, the prevention of unauthorized access and misuse of data.
As technology evolves, so too must our efforts to ensure data privacy.