Mid-Atlantic Privacy: The Middle Way

Note: This post is the first of a series. Over the following weeks, Commissioner White will explore each of the Mid-Atlantic Privacy Compass Points in greater detail.

Bermuda sits at the crossroads of the Atlantic physically, culturally, and economically. This has long been to the island's benefit, claiming the best of multiple worlds to create a prosperous and successful community.

From a data protection standpoint, there are two schools of thought on each side of the Atlantic Ocean, or so the stereotypes go. Europe calls for respect for individual rights to privacy, while the United States encourages a free-market, business-friendly approach. Many organisations and even countries now appear to find themselves in the position that Bermuda has been in, so often throughout its history, of being forced to choose a side.

But Bermuda has shown that this is a false dichotomy. As has happened so often before, instead of choosing a side we must look to forge a new path, taking the best of both worlds. This may mean embracing flexibility and, at times, a certain sense of uncertainty as we work through novel issues. Following a different way, the middle way, has the potential to succeed in the spirit of both ideologies. This is the goal of Mid-Atlantic Privacy, a guiding philosophy that I have been developing since my earliest days as Privacy Commissioner.

We are often confronted with questions asking which is more important: Business or privacy? Innovation or individuals? Prosperity or rights? We must reject the narrative of “or” and seek win-win solutions. Instead of zero-sum games, we must focus on “Privacy and….” We must find a way to give the highest respect to individual rights to privacy—but do so in a business-friendly way, that shows the work’s value to both individuals and organisations.