21 April 2017

Guernsey ahead of the game on GDPR preparations, Carey Olsen conference told

Guernsey is ahead of its competitors in preparing for the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which could provide the island with significant opportunities in the data sector.

This view was reflected at a fully-subscribed Carey Olsen conference where Data Protection Commissioner Emma Martins said that GDPR is ensuring that we do not “hurtle headlong into a digital future” without appropriate protections. Ms Martins said that, rather than being regulatory red tape, GDPR provided an opportunity to respond proactively to the “datafication” of individuals’ personal and business lives.

Work has begun on drafting a Guernsey law which will be broadly equivalent to the EU regulation and which will assist in maintaining the current adequacy status which allows data flow between the island and Europe with minimal barriers.

States of Guernsey Chief Information Officer Colin Vaudin said: “Guernsey is probably the most proactive of jurisdictions preparing for GDPR. We are well ahead of our competitor jurisdictions and this is being recognised. Whilst there is no room for complacency it does provide an opportunity to enhance our reputation as a secure, well-regulated place to live and work.”

Richard Field, counsel to the dispute resolution and regulatory team at Carey Olsen, said: “Guernsey engaged with the EU from a very early stage, they can see we are making progress and we have had positive feedback. The feeling is that we are ahead of many European countries in terms of our preparations.”

He said it was important that the business community engaged with the working party consulting on the new law, collaboratively working across sectors.

“I’m keen to hear of any issues so that we can take them into account and feed them back to Government,” he said.

Mr Vaudin said that Guernsey was one of the first “third countries” to engage with the European Commission data protection unit and had been represented at meetings with the Department for Exiting the European Union and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Carey Olsen partner Mark Dunster said: “The future of regulatory standards across Europe is uncertain, so we want to be at the front of the queue to maintain adequacy and keep our good reputation. The island has long been somewhere where we pride ourselves at being at the top end of the regulatory track. People can rely on us for secure transactions and good standards of business.”

Mr Field added: “If you are not thinking about GDPR already, you really ought to now. Businesses will need guidance on both the legal and technology fronts. We have an experienced team and are happy to work with businesses to prepare and put them in touch with other providers if the issue requires a technology solution.”