Guernsey Press

Data protection head steps down from role

MAKING people more aware of their data, and trying to make the subject more relevant to islanders, has been the focus of the island’s data protection commissioner, who had her last day in the office yesterday.

Emma Martins is leaving her role as data protection commissioner at the Office of the Data Protection Authority, which she helped set up in 2018. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 32787561)

When GDPR was introduced in Europe in 2018, Emma Martins took on the task to set up a regulatory office in Guernsey from scratch.

‘To walk away from the job that I love, it’s hard, of course, but to walk away from the people that I’ve worked with for these years is really hard,’ she said.

‘I’m just immensely proud of what they have achieved, and I know that they will continue to do great things.’

Mrs Martins, who was previously based in Jersey and worked pan-island in the data protection field for some years, admitted that some parts of the job had been challenging.

‘I know people do an eye roll at what you do for a living, thinking it is really tedious.

‘I saw it as my mission to try and break down some of those preconceptions about what the law is there for, and what good data protection can look like for our community, to get beyond people seeing there’s just a whole series of padlocks or red tape.’

Before 2018, data protection was pan-island for Jersey and Guernsey, until both governments decided they wanted separate regulatory offices. Mrs Martins stayed in Guernsey to set up the office from scratch.

‘It’s been a service as much as a job title or an office. It’s a form of service for the community, and I find myself sounding trite, but that’s how we all see it,’ she said.

‘We are a small team with limited resources, but I think a big part of the work we do has been trying to connect individuals and our community on a slightly different level so they look at it through a different lens.

‘It’s been a huge privilege not only to do the role, but to work with the people I work with.

‘It’s testament that it’s never one person. I get to talk about it, I’m the face of it and that’s great, but it’s not me, it’s a team of people.’

Mrs Martins said that due to being on a fixed-term contract, she had no scope to stay and officially leaves the post at the end of the year. She will be taking some time to have a break but hopes to stay in the field of data protection.

Mrs Martins’ replacement is Brent Homan, who was deputy commissioner at the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. He had been there since 2012.