Consultant in the Technology Ministry, Trevor Forrest, is calling on the media to discuss how it can strike an appropriate balance between the public’s right to information and the need to protect people’s data.

This, he says, should be the approach taken by media houses instead of seeking to be made exempt from the provisions contained in the Data Protection Bill.

Mr. Forrest was reacting to concerns raised by both the Press Association of Jamaica, PAJ, and the Media Association of Jamaica, MAJ, about the likelihood of the Data Protection Bill crippling the practice of journalism in Jamaica.

Mr. Forrest says that’s not the intention of the bill.

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The media fraternity has also raised concerns about the lack of distinction between large and smaller companies in the bill. But, Mr. Forrest says every entity, despite their size, should be responsible for protecting the data they process.

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And, Mr. Forrest is assuring media entities that they’ll only need to register information they handle once. He says the wording in the bill which speaks to that, needs to be clarified.

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In the meantime, Senior Legal Officer at the RJR/Gleaner Group, Sheena Stubbs, says the original aim of the Data Protection Bill wasn’t intended to apply to journalism.

Mrs. Stubbs says a law that acts as a dragnet isn’t needed to remedy the malady the data protection bill originally sought to address.

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However, the Technology Ministry says similar data protection laws, without exemption for the media, have been successful in other jurisdictions like those in the European Union.

But, Ms. Stubbs says many of those jurisdictions also have separate laws aimed at protecting the media.

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