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Stakeholders warn government against draconian data protection laws

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Chief Executive Officer/Executive Secretary, American Business Council, Margaret Olele


•Senate pledges speedy passage of bill

Promoters of Nigeria-America Economic Partnership have urged Nigerian government to eschew passage of any draconian data protection laws that would compromise international best practices.

They argued that draconian laws would hold back the nation’s development and opposed to progress that is seen in other parts of the world.The Nigerian Data Protection Bill, which has passed various reading stages, is presently before the Senate waiting for a public hearing.
 
The Chief Executive Officer/Executive Secretary, American Business Council, Margaret Olele, in an opening remarks said that the Nigeria Data protection bill before the National Assembly should not encourage punitive measures but to encourage growth and economic development for the people.

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She spoke yesterday at the data protection workshop organised by the American-Business Council in Abuja.

The Council is the America Chamber of Commerce and an affiliate of the United States Chamber of commerce working with U.S. mission in driving trade and investment opportunities between Nigeria and the U.S. in the interest of member companies of both countries.

Olele noted: “We shall be happy to see that our recommendations to the bill are taken. We appreciate what the National Information Development Agency (NITDA) and other regulatory agencies are doing. So, we would want to see a bill that runs in the direction devoid of undue interference. A bill that is less draconian in nature as it will go a long way to encourage both private and public sector to blossom.”

On the benefits of the bill, if passed by the Nigerian lawmakers, Olele stated that apart from affording incremental growth, it will further improve the financial position of the country by attracting foreign exchange earnings.

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Also speaking, the National Coordinator, ONC in (NITDA), Kasim Sodangi, said his organisation wanted to see a bill that does not put unnecessary burden or stress young  and innovating Nigerians and communities.

In a keynote address, the Chairman Senate Committee on Information Technology (ICT), Senator Yakubu Oseni, assured that Nigerian Data Protection Bill before the Senate was ready to go for a public hearing.

Oseni said: “We in the Senate and indeed the National Assembly want the bill to be passed as soon as possible after it scales through the public hearing stage. I want to assure Nigerians that very soon, the bill we see the light of the day.”

According to him, ‘”Our expectations are for Nigerians across the board. Everyone will feel better and safer, even the business world would be safe. In short, it will attract more direct foreign investors into this country because their data will be protected.”

In a presentation, the Former Executive Director, Data Protection Commission of Ghana, Teki Akuetteh, said any successful data protection laws must be realistic with experts or independent regulators, working with industry players and not against them, and ensure enforcement co-operation among others.

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