Government is set to introduce a law to protect personal information, especially data stored by the state on the Internet, the Prime Minister announced today.
An information ombudsman is also to be appointed, should funds permit, who will be responsible for enabling access to Government Information.
The Prime Minister also announced that the television airwaves, the sole preserve of the state since 1964, are to be opened up to competition.
As she addressed the renaming of the Nation Publishing Company’s headquarters after two of the newspaper’s founders, the late Sir Fred Gollop and Harold Hoyte, Prime Minister Mottley said: “Cabinet has also discussed a Data Protection Act, and we hope to bring this to both Houses of Parliament before the end of June, because it is important that we respect people’s privacy in a world where information is shared by the minute, and every time we go on a website, we leave “digital footprints” which can be used to trace us.
“We want to work with all economic interests to protect people’s privacy, because our Constitution does not address these matters since they were not an issue in 1966 when it was drawn up.”
The Prime Minister added: “My Government is committed to allowing people to have a say in how this country should be run and the direction which its development should take, and as soon as our financial position permits it, we will be creating the post of Information Ombudsman, who will ensure that information will flow in an unbiased fashion.”
Ahead of tomorrow’s commemoration of World Press Freedom Day, the Prime Minister commended the two media giants for ensuring fair and unbiased coverage of all political organisations in the country, suggesting that they pursued Errol Barrow’s policy of “Friends of all and Satellites of none” as they went about their work.
Mottley revealed that Government was committed to giving Barbadians more choice in locally based television, but wanted to ensure these stations would truly represent all Barbadians and not be partisan in nature.
Said the Prime Minister: “We have committed to removing the state-run monopoly of the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, but we want any new television stations to be public companies in which Barbadians can purchase shares and thereby own a stake in them.