January 28th is the International Day of Privacy. The Commissie toezicht bescherming persoonsgegevens BES (BES Commission for the protection of personal data privacy; hereafter referred to as the ‘Commission’) has therefore assembled this week to provide information and to discuss the importance of handling personal data such as names, addresses, income details, photo’s, ID numbers and medical data carefully with the community. Late last year this Commission has already visited St. Eustatius and Saba.
Chairman Glenn Thodé explains: “An increasing amount of privacy-sensitive information is stored in digital files and is available via networks and the Internet. Of course this has advantages but it also presents risks such as identity theft and computer fraud. This imposes stringent requirements in the field of the security of digitally processed personal data. In order to call attention to these issues January 28th has been declared International Day of Privacy.”
The Commission was established on April 1st 2014. In addition to the chairman, Esther Pourier and Jacques van Eck were also appointed as members. The Caribbean Netherlands is the first part of the Kingdom in the Caribbean where such a privacy watchdog was actually established. The Commission is responsible for the supervision of the execution of the Wet bescherming persoonsgegevens BES (BES Protection of Personal Data Act) which came into force on October 10th 2010. At the early stages the Commission will mainly focus on awareness so that the legal standards will be complied to on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
“It is desirable that citizens and organisations know what rights and obligations they have before exercising supervision. Citizens for instance have the right to inspect their personal data, to have inaccuracies therein corrected and also to have them removed in certain cases. This also applies to non-residents who live in the Caribbean Netherlands, such as seconded employees and tourists,” Thodé says. In addition to the rights of citizens there are the obligations of individuals and organisations who/which collect and process personal data. Thodé continues: “Individuals and organisations working with files containing personal data are responsible for identifying and observing their legal obligations. For example: processing personal data is only permitted for the purpose for which the data was obtained. If an individual provides privacy details to a company in order to acquire a service, that company is not permitted to pass these data on to an advertising agency. In addition, data files need to be protected sufficiently against unauthorized use, such as cyber theft.”
In order to deal with awareness as effectively as possible, the Commission will annually focus on one theme. The theme of 2015 is the employment relation between employer and employee. During the explanatory session the Commission hopes for a productive cooperation with parties and interest groups which can play a role therein.
For the execution of its duties the Commission has a secretary. The secretariat uses the facilities of the Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland. As concerns contents and organisation, the Commission operates completely independently. For questions, signals and complaints about how personal data is handled, please contact the secretary, Lizanne Kos, on firstname.lastname@example.org or +599 7950450. Please send letters to the Commissie toezicht bescherming persoonsgegevens BES, c/o Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland, Kaya International z/n, Bonaire.