From collecting and managing data effectively and in accordance with the law, to using data to market your products and services, to protecting that data in the event of security breaches and cyber hacks, a robust and responsible approach to data management is as important now as it has ever been. 

In fact, a strong commitment to best practice when it comes to data management can have a significantly positive impact on the reputation of firms as well as its operation – or indeed the opposite, if the approach to data management is found to be lacking, irresponsible or unethical. 

Just this month, for instance, Google was handed a $57m fine by the French authorities for violating GDPR rules, but the cost of breaking rules or failing to implement sufficiently strong cyber defences can go far beyond a fine alone. A YouGov poll, for instance, has found that almost 80% of customers would take their business elsewhere if a company failed to stop a security breach. 

And so it is for the international finance centres that house these firms too. From a jurisdictional perspective, putting in place a framework that clearly encourages best practice is absolutely vital. It’s estimated that by next year, there will be 24 billion internet-connected devices on earth – four for every single human being – and business and financial transactions are likely to be carried out on every one of those. 

Jersey’s forward-thinking approach and digital strategy means we are very much at the centre of this connected future.  

But it’s a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, transparency and cooperation is central to the ongoing approach of governments around the world to tackling financial crime. Jersey is fully subscribed to that, and has signed up to measures to collect, verify and exchange beneficial ownership information with authorities around the world, and to commit to cross-border reporting through initiatives like the Common Reporting Standard, for instance. 

We do this by working with partners around the world to ensure the mechanisms we have in place are robust and secure – a recent positioning paper makes our stance clear on these issues. 

On the other hand, upholding an essential human right to privacy is essential too, and so we adopt an approach that is based on the principle of ‘compliant confidentiality’ – recognising the right and the need of people to privacy in their personal affairs, while being mindful of our responsibilities as a good citizen in combatting illicit flows. 

With Data Protection Day taking place this week (28 January), it’s an opportune time to remind ourselves of this balancing act. How can we, both as an industry and as an island, earn trust by demonstrating a clear commitment to transparency, while at the same time safeguarding the right to privacy of clients around the world?  

With that in mind, a range of events are taking place throughout this week to explore all areas of data protection, privacy and cyber security. It should provide some food for thought in an area that will continue to shape our future online behaviours.