Parliamentarians have unanimously approved two pieces of legislations that revolutionizes the use of electronic data in Antigua and Barbuda.
The first piece of legislation – Electronic Evidence Act – deals with the use of electronic evidence in court, while the other – the Data Protection Act – mandates the protection of private information.
On Friday, the bills were approved by the House of Representatives as part of a suite of legislation approved by OECS heads of states.
“It is a case where we have come of age and recognise that in this electronic world electronic evidence must be allowed to be placed before the court in respect of both civil and criminal matters,” Attorney General Justin Simon said.
He said parliament had to move speedily in 2009 to approve the Evidence Special Provisions Act in light of evidence in the trial of those accused of killing British honeymooning couple Ben and Catherine Mullany.
On the other hand, the Data Protection bill is said to be an essential component to electronic government bills that are part of model legislation drafted by the International Telecommunications Union, and was later adjusted at the Caricom and OECS levels.
“The Data Protection bill is intended to protect the private information of the public from abuse by establishing systems that engender trust in what we know to be a high-technological world,” Finance and Economy Minister Harold Lovell said.
“Technology now makes it very easy to gather, retrieve, disseminate and manipulate huge amounts of personal data. This has given rise to concerns that the privacy of individuals can be easily compromised. Secondly, security and privacy are often cited as some of the main reasons for the slow growth of electronic transactions including e-commerce and e-Government.”
Government is the largest custodian of personal information.