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Global Research fellow urges judges to be pro-active in interpretation of laws

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Legal practitioner and 2017 Global Research Fellow of International Center for Not for profit Law (ICNL) Washington DC, Solomon Okedara has urged Judges to be pro-active in the interpretation of existing legal frameworks to protect data privacy.

He noted that section three of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure rules requires fundamental human rights in Chapter IV of the constitution (which includes Right to Privacy) be given expansive and purposive interpretation and application.

This came after the alleged involvement of Cambridge Analytica (CA) in some electoral processes around the world including Nigeria’s 2015 Presidential election.

Okedara in a statement yesterday maintained that the CA’s scandal is an indication that data privacy could be easily compromised for unimaginable purposes.

The legal practitioner stated that while the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill is awaiting Presidential assent, the provision of Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution should be considered applicable for protection of data privacy.He said: “Breach of data privacy has been with us for some time and may remain with us as long as humanity exists and technology advances. It has its faces and phases in our daily lives; from illegal electronic search, to unauthorized data retention, to surveillance, to monitoring and data harvesting of all sorts and in all forms.

“Right to Privacy which covers Data Privacy is categorized as a fundamental human right in most jurisdictions around the world including Nigeria. It has been however observed that provision of Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution is not detailed in form, substance and procedure to protect the privacy of Nigerians in current times, particularly as to their data and this has been cited as reason for unfettered and unregulated access of governments and their agencies to private data of Nigerians.”

He therefore tasked Nigerians to focus more on the governments and their agencies that he claimed to be responsible for breach of data privacy under several guises in “unchecked and unregulated manners.”

“Even when we eventually have Digital Rights and Freedom Act, all fear is not permanently taken care of since technology now evolves at the speed of light and the Data protection laws of today may have to struggle to address the breaches of tomorrow.

“Men in “wig and gown” have fundamental roles to play. This is more so given that the business of enacting laws and amending them is not an easy and regular one, the interpreters of law therefore owe us a creative duty of interpreting the existing legal frameworks to protect our data privacy at all times.

“While the focus around the world may be on Cambridge Analytica and related firms for some time, citizens are however advised to focus more on their own governments who often more than not, are responsible for breach of their data privacy under several guises and in unchecked and unregulated manners.”


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