Who knew data protection was so encompassing?

If someone had told me 6 months ago I would be starting a new job in the middle of a global pandemic I wouldn’t have believed them. Yet here I am embarking on a new career and jumping head-first into the world of Data Protection!

So how did I come to join Jersey Office of the Information Commissioner (JOIC) and what will my role be going forward?

I was lucky enough to have received a (very!) basic understanding of Data Protection from my previous role but if I’m honest, it’ll all still very much a learning experience for me. Over the past couple of years I’ve attended multiple events held by the JOIC and found myself fascinated at this evolving industry. Each training session I attended left me hungry to learn more so when I saw that they were advertising for a Communications & Operations Assistant it seemed the perfect opportunity.

What will my role involve? I will be working within the Communications and Operations team, providing additional support to the existing team with a variety of tasks. Whilst I won’t be directly involved with any cases and by no means will I be giving anyone Data Protection advice, I still wanted to start off by learning more about the basics of data protection.

Within my previous job I had completed various training sessions from the organisation’s perspective but wasn’t exactly clued up on my own personal rights. As an online shopping addict, I’ll be the first person to put my hands up and admit that before I started working for JOIC I’ve never once checked a privacy policy but it’s something I’ll be doing going forward. With so called Instagram brand scams and fake business profiles on the rise it’s easy to get fooled into thinking you’re spending your hard-earned cash with a reputable business. A privacy policy should be easy to read and lay out exactly what data is being collected and the purpose(s) for doing so and should help you figure out whether you’re really dealing with a decent business; one that cares about your data and you as a consumer.

Another key fact I’ve learnt is that as an individual you have the right to request that decisions about you are made by a human being, yes, you read that correctly a HUMAN. In a world where Artificial Intelligence is storming ahead quite often you’ll find online calculators or chatbots are your first point of call and that this AI is making decisions that affect you sometimes without any human interaction at all! Under the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018 (DPJL)  you have the right to request that a person deals with your individual case and that any decisions are made directly by them.  

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve also been given an oversight of the annual renewals process which as an outsider I remember hearing the radio adverts for early last year. Within my first couple of weeks, I’ve seen first-hand how much preparation goes into a project of this scale and the involvement that is required across the office. Within the Communications and Operations team, one of our responsibilities is ensuring that the campaign is rolled out across various social media channels. I’ve been able to put my creative writing skills to the test and assist with messages that will go out from now all the way through till the end of February. The Compliance and Enforcement team focus on process improvements and testing. It is a mammoth project and with no stone left unturned and this is all being done alongside the usual work our office does dealing with complaints, investigations etc.

People’s appreciation of the value of their personal information is only going to grow as more and more people become aware of their rights in both a business sense, as well as on a personal level. I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to join JOIC at such an interesting time and look forward to learning more as the days go on.