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CBU takes issue with draft data protection legislation

Gary Allen and Andrew Holness
 
The Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) has taken issue with draft legislation in some countries in the region aimed at putting laws in place for data protection. 
 
These countries include Jamaica, Suriname and Trinadad & Tobago. 
 
Speaking at the CBU's Annual General Assembly held in New Kingston on Monday, CBU President Gary Allen noted with concern the effects the proposed law are likely to have on press freedom. 
 
"We must make it clear that we will not yield our editorial independence, we will not reveal our sources to any other person than our editorial chiefs; we will not accept a law that will levy fines or imprisonment on publishers for not meeting data protection laws of disclosure of our information to others," he declared.  
 
The CBU argued that Jamaica has no laws to protect against the disclosure of journalists' sources as exists in other jurisdictions which have similar data protection laws.
 
The Media Association of Jamaica (MAJ) and the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) have asked that the practice of journalism be exempted from the provisions of the bill now being discussed. 
 
Jamaica's Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, who is the current Chairman of CARICOM, responded to the concerns raised by the CBU.
 
He noted that, while it is important to protect the privacy and security of data for the public, it is also imperative that Parliament finds a middle ground so as not to cause "moral hazard for the press" by limiting the protections that already exist in terms of carrying out investigations without criminal liability. 


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