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Chamber of Commerce Digital Forum's IC letter to IOM Government | July 2023

03 August 2023

Dear Chief Minister,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Digital Forum of the Isle of Man Chamber of
Commerce. The Forum is deeply concerned about the recent loss of key members
of the Isle of Man Information Commission (IC) and further potential underlying
issues. We would like to highlight how important the Information Commission is in
upholding a robust digital economy – which features as part of the Government’s
Economic Strategy.

The IC is a vital independent supervisory body for data protection that plays a key
role in protecting the data of individuals and businesses, ultimately reducing harm
and increasing confidence in the passing of data in our economy:
● Transparency - ensuring that Government information is readily available to the
public, fostering trust between the government and citizens, through easy
access to information about government decisions, policies, and actions.
● Accountability - by providing a mechanism to file Freedom of Information
requests and ensuring their timely response, Information Commissions hold
public authorities accountable for their actions. This helps prevent misuse of
power and corruption through transparency.
● Citizen empowerment - empowers citizens to actively participate in
governance. Access to information enables people to make informed decisions,
engage in public discourse, and monitor government activities. Empowerment
also directly links to the Digital Economy where new digital efficiencies and
functionality stimulate economic growth.
● Efficient governance - with improved transparency and accountability,
government officials are more likely to act responsibly, leading to better
decision-making and effective governance. Governance is also cascaded to
business, leading to overall stronger data governance on the Isle of Man.
● Checks and balances: Information Commissions act as an independent body,
ensuring that government agencies and officials adhere to the principles of
transparency and accountability, thus providing a check on potential abuses of
● Strengthening democracy: by promoting informed citizenship and participatory
governance, Information Commissions contribute to the overall strengthening of
democratic values and processes.
This regulatory function is set out in law within Article 51 (supervisory authority) of
the Data Protection (Application of GDPR) Order 2018 (GDPR Order). The duties
and responsibilities of the Commissioner are set out in Article 57 of the GDPR
Order, and among other things include:
• monitoring and enforcing the legislation
• promoting public awareness and understanding of the risks, rules, safeguards,
and rights in relation to the processing of personal data
• providing advice to the Isle of Man Government and other institutions and
bodies on legislative and administrative measures relating to the protection of
natural persons' rights and freedoms with regards to processing
• promoting awareness of controllers and processors of their obligations under the
• providing information to data subjects, upon request, about their rights under
the legislation, free of charge (unless the request/s is excessive or manifestly
handling complaints lodged by data subjects, or by a body, organisation, or
• conducting investigations which might extend to carrying out data protection
audits and obtaining access to the premises of a controller
• and monitoring relevant developments and international cooperation.
Its work is essential to ensuring that the Isle of Man can build a strong and wellrespected digital economy that is based on trust and confidence.
Insofar as the current situation, the recent loss of key members of the IC has
weakened the office and made it more difficult for it to carry out its important work.
It has also created concerns from businesses around the stability of the IC, which
undermines trust in its ability to carry out its work.

This is a serious concern, and whilst we note that the Government has recently
recruited a replacement head of the Commission, we urge that further urgent action
is taken to address any underlying issues the IC has been facing up to this point.
We are particularly concerned about the following aspects of the loss of an effective
IC function for the digital and wider economy:
● The impact on businesses. Businesses that operate in the digital economy rely
on the IC function to protect their data and to ensure that they are compliant
with data protection laws. The loss of an effective and well-respected
information commissioner would lead to businesses being less confident in the
Isle of Man as a place to do business, could also lead to increased costs for
businesses as they have to take on more responsibility for data protection, and
could lead to businesses leaving the Island due to the lack of global parity.
● The impact on consumers. Consumers who use digital services rely on the IC
to protect their privacy and to ensure that they are treated fairly. The loss of an
information commissioner could make it more difficult for consumers to
complain about unfair treatment, and it could also make it more difficult for
consumers to get their personal data deleted or issues investigated.
● The impact on the Isle of Man's reputation. The Isle of Man has a reputation
for being a safe and reliable place to do business. The loss of a respected IC
function would most definitely damage this reputation, and it would make it
more difficult for the Isle of Man to attract businesses and investment. Noting
also the importance of not allowing our current adequacy status to be brought
further under threat.
The issues highlighted by the outgoing Information Commissioner and staff makes it
appear externally that Government does not take data protection and privacy
seriously. This could have a negative impact on the Isle of Man's medium to longterm economic prospects. The Digital Forum are hopeful that you will see the value
that can be realised by taking strong positive actions at this point to prove, beyond
any doubt the importance applied data protection and privacy and the governance
around it seriously.

The issue of data sovereignty is becoming increasingly important in the digital
economy, (noting “Data” is proposed as a new sector growth in the most recent Isle
of Man Economic Strategy - GD No. 2022/0080) and there could well be future
potential for the IOM to establish itself as a “data safe haven”, for example, which
would help attract future digital business to the island and differentiate ourselves
from our offshore competitors.
This business development initiative, along with many others our Forum members
have seen and been a part of over the years, requires the full support of a highquality, forward-thinking and properly resourced regulator who could work with
industry and Government to help ensure that the IOM proposition is developed and
progressed to help support future economic growth.
We urge that you take our concerns seriously and action is taken to ensure that the
IC function is properly funded and resourced. It is vital for the Isle of Man to
demonstrate the understanding that a respected and effective IC is fundamental to
the Isle of Man's underpinning digital economy, and Government has a leading role
to play in that narrative. We also urge that you recognise this.
As an initial action, we would suggest that there is an immediate review of the
current governance and funding of the IC function and seek to understand if this is
an appropriate amount to enable it to perform its fundamental role in society.
Thank you for your time and consideration.


The Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce Digital Forum.