The National Assembly gave the nod to the Data Protection (Amendment) Bill of 2023 on Thursday, targeting the safeguarding of an individual’s privacy rights in relation to the handling of their personal information. The legislation is set to guide the collection, storage, processing, and distribution of this data.
Speaking on the matter, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, who introduced the bill for its second round of deliberation, articulated its significance in updating the nation’s laws and paving the way for e-governance.
“We are at the commencement of a transition to e-governance, and we now have to prepare every aspect of our governmental machinery as well as the private sector infrastructure to allow for this digital electronic transformation to take place as we join the rest of the world in this age of information and technology,” he remarked.
Nandlall highlighted that the formation of the bill involved broad consultation and aligns with both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“Guyana, by this bill, will now be joining a large number of countries across the globe in putting in place a legislative framework that will allow for the legitimate accumulation, use, transferal, storage and update of data to be used in electronic and digital transactions,” he explained.
In the backdrop of rapid technological progression and the incorporation of ICT into daily routines, alongside a spike in cybercrimes, there emerges an imperative need for such legal safeguards.
The legislation specifies the essence of personal data and encompasses details from both private and public aspects of an individual’s life. As clarified in the bill’s memorandum, the primary objectives encompass outlining the core principles of data protection, stipulating the rights of those whose data is stored, guaranteeing data security, and detailing punitive measures for non-compliance.
It further stresses the importance of data being processed in a transparent, fair, and lawful manner, emphasizing accuracy and relevance.
Additionally, the bill provides directives on the grounds of consent, emphasizing its voluntary, specific, clear, and informed nature, with the provision for its withdrawal. Provisions are also made for situations where consent isn’t obligatory. A key component is the establishment of the Data Protection Office, led by a commissioner designated by the president, to oversee the Act’s execution and management.