February 22nd, 2018

CTO urges members to consider shared model data protection framework

Gibraltar, 22 February 2018 – Shola Taylor, secretary-general of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), urged Commonwealth countries to develop a Commonwealth model data protection framework.

Mr Taylor was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Data Forum’18, which took place over two days on 21 – 22 February in Gibraltar, examining the challenges of the implications of GDPR on the Commonwealth and ways to overcome the obstacles Commonwealth countries will face post Brexit.

Commonwealth countries need to take more responsibility on data protection and possibly develop a model that works specifically for the Commonwealth,” said Mr Taylor.

Personal data is about the privacy of an individual and something that must be taken seriously. The Commonwealth must allow companies to have a proactive approach to collecting data, but so do the regulators. Regulators need to develop new regulations and responsibilities and update laws to reflect GDPR. Data flow remains global, irrespective of the UK leaving the EU.” he added.  

Mr Taylor was speaking at the opening ceremony alongside the Honourable Sir Joseph Bossano, minister of economic development, telecommunications of Gibraltar, Malcolm Johnson, deputy secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, Paul Canessa, chief executive officer of the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority and Tim Bristow, chief executive officer of Gibtelecom.

Panellists at the Commonwealth Data Forum’18, February 2018, Gibraltar.

Participants agreed that GDPR is an evolution, not a revolution. If Commonwealth governments and regulators have good data protection laws and practices, GDPR will not be overly onerous.

The Commonwealth has a global reach like no other and we need to work together to develop our data protection laws. Data was always there, however we now need to develop new ways of mining and using it in a safe and responsible way, to derive value and improve quality of life of our people,” said The Honourable Sir Joseph Bossano, minister of economic development, telecommunications of Gibraltar.

Large companies are like small governments where chief data officer roles need to be developed to ensure access for those needing data is managed correctly, giving empowerment, rather than superaccess to everyone. GDPR must have data protection officers to ensure data is controlled accurately,” said David Espadas, digital service director for customer unit for Ericsson.

Data is about privacy of an individual and we must take it more seriously. Regulation must empower individuals in the digital space to encourage controlled and safe data flow.

However, we need governments and companies to take more responsibility for data protection, and impose privacy by design through new models after GDPR takes effect,” said Giovanni Buttarelli, supervisor of European Data Protection.

To effectively prepare for GDPR there needs to be a change programme, with two streams that focus on service delivery and the enabler. We need to train more people about data protection, IT security and develop frameworks that work. An evaluation process should be developed which is an evolutionary journey,” said Alain Kapper, senior policy officer from the Information Commissioner’s Officer, United Kingdom.

The event heard about data protection laws and regulations experiences of countries from across the Commonwealth and beyond, including India, Montserrat, Gibraltar, United Kingdom, the European Union and Nigeria.

Key outcomes from the event included:

  • Agreement that developing uniform international data protection legislation is necessary
  • Privacy is a human right and accountability to protect that right is key. Over-the-top services need to work together with telcos to provide safe flow of data. Regulation is important in order to ensure the data is used in a safe way where users feel that their privacy is respected.
  • Commonwealth regions should work together on the protection of data as there are no centralised global laws or regulations for protecting the individual user.
  • An opportunity for the CTO to develop a framework that can be adopted to Commonwealth countries, enabling them to work together and ensure that data flow is continuous and safe, with legal processes in place to ensure safety.

For more information, please contact CTO Membership Division at communications@cto.int or +44 20 8600 3820.

About the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation

The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) is the oldest and largest Commonwealth intergovernmental organisation in the field of information and communication technologies. With a diverse membership spanning developed and least developed countries, small island developing states, and more recently also the private sector and civil society, the CTO aims to become a trusted partner for sustainable development for all through ICTs. More information about us here.