Data protection is considered an esoteric subject, but affects the entirety of the modern economy, ranging from a home-based cake supplier who maintains a list of customers, their preferences and contacts, to a multinational insurance company.
"Data protection is considered an esoteric subject, but it can have powerful effects in the emerging digital economy. Depending on the success of digitalisation efforts, pretty much every organization may fall within the scope of data protection regulation. Few developing countries have enacted data protection legislation. There may be lessons to be drawn from the Sri Lankan effort."
“Sri Lanka has wellcrafted laws but rarely are they implemented satisfactorily. If the regulator is underresourced, little more than ticking the boxes so that Sri Lanka will pass the EU’s adequacy test is likely to be achieved, and even that is uncertain. The best law is not one that is optimal in a technical sense, but one which is most appropriate for the local conditions”
An Expert Round Table discussion on “Data Protection in an Interconnected World” was held on the 28th of June 2021, as the first of a series of discussions under the theme of “Frontiers of Digital Economy”
I have been teaching regulation since the 1980s, using all kinds of text books and articles. Since around 2000, I was deeply engaged in training regulators all over the world. It was thus not a big deal to respond to a request to write an overview or pull together a bibliography. But what I found most useful was a question from a colleague about the one article/book I would say was central to understanding regulation. Not ten, not five, but one.
This document is intended to understand the extant policy context in relation to healthcare data protection, providing international comparisons, and raise important questions for Sri Lanka to consider in relation to data protection, albeit within a narrow sector specific scope.
I was recently listening to some Microsoft officials asserting that they would be fully compliant with the new European General Data Protection Regulation, implying that it could be applied here too. There is no doubt that countries that seek to do business with Europe will have to pay special attention to GDPR. But that does not mean that we should simply do a cut and paste. The GDPR bears the marks of its birth. It may be appropriate for Europe (this article suggests, that too will be a problem).
The second panel was on digital rights and multistakeholderism. I did not think there can be much debate about a Rorschach inkblot so I devoted only one slide to it and made some passing comments, which still managed to elicit some response from the people who live under the protection of the concept. Digital rights was where the robust exchange occurred. Not because of the relatively uncontroversial issue of governments being prevented from arbitrarily shutting down the Internet and the underlying telecom networks that I proposed. But it was because one of the panelists proposed the wholesale importation of the European data protection regime and rights such as the “right to be forgotten.
Europe has been the fount of data protection absolutism. Not a problem for anyone else but countries such as Thailand and Indonesia are well on the way to model their legislation on the European model. But Chancellor Merkel has seen that the absolutist approach poses dangers to European consumers and businesses as well. Europeans are famous for banning things, Merkel said. These bans are put in place for good reason, she said, but can be damaging if taken to excess.