Jail time, hefty fines coming as part of new privacy laws

The government is keen on implementing a cyber-master plan and work is ongoing to move the country into an era of E-governance but with that, there is also the need for legislation to protect private information.

Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday said that new privacy laws will make its way to the Parliament soon and once in place, it will ensure the full protection of people’s personal information entrusted to the State.

Persons who share that information will be slapped with hefty fines and jail time as is envisioned with the enactment of new laws.

“We have to go to the Parliament with laws on piracy; that is being drafted now to give assurance that data will be protected.

“Disclosure of private data will attract serious penalties… you will face hefty fines and jail time if you utilise private data for your own purpose,” the Vice President explained.

Similarly, there will be laws to protect people’s personal records as the government looks to implement the electronic one chart system for the medical management of citizens.

“It helps us to do a lot more paperless work and you don’t want people to disclose that information.”

He said the government is working to ensure those laws are in place before the issuance of the new electronic ID cards for which a contract has already been awarded to German-based company – Veridos.

The government intends to use citizens’ biometrics in a major way to increase its public security apparatus.

According to Jagdeo, biometric information received from the implementation of the new electronic identification systems will also feed into the cameras installed across the country for purposes of facial recognition, among other things.

“We are developing sectors that we believe will give us the biggest impact right now and automate them to bring them into a modern era,” the Vice President said of the cyber master plan.

He said there is a need to ensure that the new systems, however, are compatible with other systems the government will put in place.

For instance, work is ongoing at the Ministry of Home Affairs and its agencies to simplify and create automated processes.

“The contract to do ID cards with full biometrics allows us to develop a range of functions and applications…we are working separately to make the airport paperless…biometrics from the ID card programme will feed into the security cameras put across the country.

“All interface systems, we want to automate them and work on our cyber master plan but to take this country into the new era…cyber security will become more important,” Jagdeo reasoned.

He emphasised that the State will build its cyber security capability so it can protect the new cyberinfrastructure to be put in place.

“A lot of work will have to be done at the policy level to get that done in government,” Jagdeo said.