“Data protection is too important to be left to the experts”

Speaking at the launch event for the newly reformed Bailiwick of Guernsey Data Protection Association (BGDPA), Richard Thomas, chair of the Data Protection Authority in Guernsey and former Information Commissioner for the UK, said that data protection was too important an issue to be left solely in the care of experts.

“Data protection affects all parts of the business,” he said. “IT, legal, compliance, HR, marketing, operations; there should be a senior person with knowledge across all areas who has responsibility for ensuring best practice is followed.”

During his presentation, Richard stressed that the concept of data protection had come a long way in just a few years. “When I started as the Information Commissioner in the UK, data protection and security were not really taken seriously but now they are seen, rightly, as reputational issues, and most organisations pursue better standards as a matter of ‘enlightened self-interest’. They know the regulations and rules are there but choose to follow high standards because they understand that it is expected of them, and that is a very good thing.”

Richard Field, chair of the BGDPA, said: “We’re very grateful to Richard for speaking at this first event of our new association. Data protection is a business critical issue across the board. While the advent of GDPR and new rules has highlighted it to many organisations, following good practice on data protection should be a key goal for everyone.

“We’re keen that the association plays a key role in Guernsey to encourage businesses and organisations to put data protection high on their to-do list and we will be organising events and other activities to support practitioners in this area.”

The event, supported by Daub Alderney, took place on Monday 16 May at the offices of the Data Protection Authority and saw more than 20 data protection professionals attend. Membership of the BGDPA is open to all with an interest in data protection – details are available here: https://bgdpa.gg/