Local businesses are being told to prepare themselves for new data protection regulations that will affect trade with the European Union (EU).
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was approved by the EU parliament since April 2016, but trading partners have been given until May 25, 2018 to become fully compliant.
The GDPR replaces the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and is designed to protect the data privacy of the EU and its citizens.
However with just four months to go before the changes are implemented, a regional trade law advisor is concerned that Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean are woefully unprepared and could be faced with stiff penalties.
“There are two tiers of penalties that businesses and Governments are exposed to. The lower end, which is tier two, carries a minimum of two per cent of previous year’s global annual turnover or 10 million Euros, or whichever is greater.
“At the higher end you are looking at four per cent or 20 million Euros, or which ever is greater,”explained Chad Blackman, who is a senior partner and trade law advisor to regional firm Global Partners International.
He further explained that “every single day there are tourists who come here from the European Union who go to car rentals and hire cars.
“If you take their passport information or driver’s licence that constitutes data of an EU citizen. If your company is not in compliance with these regulations and the data you collected is compromised then you are looking at these type of penalties,” he warned.
Blackman also cautioned that failure to pay the required penalties could result in blacklisting, as well as increased international scrutiny.
However, the trade attorney told Barbados TODAY he was concerned that while countries such as Singapore, the United States and Sweden had already dedicated large sums of money and time to ensure that they were compliant, the matter was not even being discussed in the Caribbean.
“The ramifications are huge and we have no choice but to get our act together in the next few months.
“We can’t afford to sit back and not do anything because we are looking at something that could have a devastating impact on our economy,” Blackman stressed.