Challenging the scapegoating of ‘data protection’

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Our commissioner Emma Martins sent this letter to the Editor of The Guernsey Press on 18 February 2020:

We clearly do not have knowledge of the detail behind the headlines regarding the ongoing Scrutiny and Education matter. Equally (as stated in our letter of 13 December 2019), we do not seek to interfere with political matters. But we remain extremely disappointed about how data protection, the legislation for which we have regulatory oversight, continues to be described as a block to good governance and due process, when the exact opposite is true.

Data is interwoven into all aspects of our lives so it is inevitable that the legislation setting out how data should be treated can be complex and open to interpretation. But the aim of the legislation is to protect all of us. How organisations handle our information can have profound effects on us, which is why the legal framework that sits around how others treat our data gives us all rights and protections that we often take for granted, or may not even be aware of.

It is too easy to blame ‘data protection’ for what often turns out to be poor planning, careless administration or lack of effort in understanding the realities of compliance. Data protection undoubtedly has an image problem, and my office and I recognise the need to encourage better understanding. We will, therefore, always seek to challenge the scapegoating of data protection and, instead, try to shift the conversation to better reflect reality.