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Policymakers to Discuss Data Privacy at Caribbean Internet Governance Forum

Gerard Best

Data privacy will be among the items topping the agenda at an upcoming Caribbean Internet Governance Forum to be held by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) in Suriname this month.

The meeting is part of an effort by several Caribbean countries to establish and strengthen policies to ensure that Internet users' personal information is collected, shared and used in appropriate ways.

It will take place from May 21 to 23, days before the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in the European Union on May 25. The GDPR is a regulation on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. But Caribbean stakeholders are already preparing for the fallout across the region's geopolitical space.

"Although the GDPR comes into effect in Europe, its effect will be felt in the Caribbean, because the region includes Dutch, French and British territories, all of which fall under the EU jurisdiction, and will, therefore, have to comply with the GDPR from as early as May 25, 2018," said Nigel Cassimire, Telecommunications Specialist at the CTU.

Because the GDPR has significant penalties for companies found in violation of its data privacy regulations, the law could adversely affect Caribbean companies doing business with European companies.

"The onus is on European companies doing business with anyone in our region to ensure that whoever they do business with have measures in place that will enable them to remain compliant with the GDPR. For the Caribbean, it is urgent for us to understand what requirements will be placed on us," Cassimire said.

The forum will be held in Suriname, a former colony of the Kingdom of the Netherlands which became an independent nation in 1975.

The agenda will include a range of issues, including service resiliency and network neutrality.

The Caribbean Internet Governance Forum is a multi-stakeholder meeting initiated by the CTU and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat to coordinate a regional approach to Internet Governance. Since its inception in 2005, the forum has met annually and has focused on the formulation of a regional framework for Caribbean Internet governance policy, the proliferation of Internet exchange points, and the growth of Caribbean influence in the global Internet governance arena.

The forum is part of a series of ongoing policy development discussions across the region. Policymakers met in Miami on April 19 to discuss Internet governance issues at a special Caribbean Forum hosted by the CTU and the American Registry for Internet Numbers.

By Gerard Best, Development Journalist
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