Registrar told to stop collecting unlawful data

| 18/08/2020 | 12 Comments
Cayman News Service

(CNS): The ombudsman has accused the registrar of companies of using a “blunt instrument” to collect information from people with no legal basis. In a recent enforcement order under the Data Protection Law, Sandy Hermiston told the registrar to stop collecting personal data from people who hold minority shares or voting rights in companies, outside of the requirements of the law.

The order came following an investigation into complaints made by some individuals who hold just 1% of shares in a company. Despite their minority stake, they were required to give detailed personal information to the registrar under the guise of the Companies Law, even though such data should only be collected from those with a 25% stake or more.

While there may be specific circumstances where personal information could be requested from someone holding less than 25% of a company’s shares, it still has to be on a basis within the law and is not a “blanket” requirement, the ombudsman said.

“The Registrar was using a blunt instrument to collect data on all company shareholders rather than the lancet the law requires,” said Hermiston in a release about the order. “All entities collecting personal data must respect the data protection principles, which include the requirement that processing personal data must have a legal basis and that the person whose data is being processed is informed of the purposes for the processing.”

As a result of the investigation, the information watchdog ordered the government’s registrar to develop a suitable privacy notice to include on the Cayman Business Portal where companies are registered. The office also recommended the development of a policy setting out fair and reasonable criteria and circumstances where additional data collection for non-registerable shareholders is sought.

The registrar now has 45 days to seek judicial review of the ombudsman’s decision.

For more information visit the website of the Office of the Ombudsman

Data protection complaints can be made to the office at 946-6283 or email

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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (12)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why are birth and death records open to the public? This is a violation of the data protection law. CIG is aware and yet does nothing to fix it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    How about the new licence plate system that, while it can’t track your movement in real time, can certainly track your movement around the island depending on where and how many sensors are set up. And the government plans on keeping this tracking information about you even when you haven’t done anything wrong! Huge data protection violations with that program. Is the Ombudsman investigating?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Please also investigate ECAY Trade who requires vistors to the site to mandatorily add a ‘friend’s’ email before you can connect with a seller.

    Another blantent abuse of people’s information who did not subscribe to be apart of their marketing services which the data is then sold to members for advertising via it’s website.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just provide a fake email address..solved. They aren’t going to confirm with the “friend” that the email is real.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Yes this is confusing as there are competing regimes here. The beneficial ownership regime which looks at beneficial owners 25% or more and the AML regime which looks at beneficial ownership 10% or more. Also, knowing who all beneficial owners are regardless of percentage ownership is different from obtaining “personal” information. No excuse however for the registrar who above all entities should know the law.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Another civil servant who thinks laws are just suggestions.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is how a nation moves forward and betters itself, not just by passing progressive-sounding laws, but by actually enforcing them! Today, despite the usual laziness and ignorance from the usual quarters we have rights for same-sex couples and a large government department that will actually follow the Data Protection Law. Yay for Cayman!

    I just hope the Ombudsman goes after Digicel for their text messages advertisements next. The opt-out option does nothing- clear and blatant breach of the DP Law!

    • Anonymous says:

      So you call it a progress when laws are complied with only after an enforcing authority order?

      You’re confused about Ombudsman role: to investigate individuals’ complaints against maladministration, especially that of public authorities.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow, this is incredible. I am so happy to see what is happening in Cayman regarding laws being enforced. Hopefully addressing racial and ethnic inequality and discrimination will be next!

    Cayman you are a light for the other OT’s, and other countries near you, that are still stumbling in the darkness of ignorance, homophobia, prejudice and discrimination. How beautiful is the rule of law.

    • Anonymous says:

      If laws were enforced it would not have escalated to the Ombudsman

    • Anonymous says:

      Enforcement actions were initiated by the ombudsman because the Registrar didn’t not comply with the Law.
      Nothing to be happy about if an institution complies with the Law only after the Ombudsman’ intervention.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well done, Ms. Hermiston. Keep up the good work.

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