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Experts move to tackle Internet policy gaps in Africa

By Muyiwa Adeyemi, Head, South-West Bureau, Ibadan
05 December 2017   |   4:24 am
Experts in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have called for a thorough campaign to educate people on the dangers of not protecting their personal data.

Director of Programmme, Paradigm Initiative, Tope Ogundipe (left); member, Steering Committee, Africa Academic Network on Internet Policy, Dr. Temitope Aladesanmi; Director, Centre for Human Rights, Dr. Lola Shallon; Executive Vice Chairman, Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP), Dr. Tunji Olaopa; moderator, Nnena Nwarama; Deputy Head, Cyber Security, Office of Chief of Staff to President of United States, Prof. Kris Seeburns; Google Policy Head, Sub Saharan Africa, Titi Akinsanmi; and Dr. Godfred Frempong at 2017 Africa academic network on Internet policy meeting in Ibadan…yesterday. PHOTO: NAJEEM RAHEEM.

Experts in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have called for a thorough campaign to educate people on the dangers of not protecting their personal data.

The experts, who gathered at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, for a two-day seminar, also observed that many Africans unwittingly provide their personal data on the social media, which is being exploited by cyber criminals to defraud them.

President, Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), Mr. Sunday Folayan, said many Nigerians were ignorant of the danger of ready availability of personal information on the Internet to the level that they deliberately provide the public with very detailed information about themselves, particularly on social media and other Internet-based activities.

He said the trend had grown to a worrisome level, adding that those guilty ignore warnings and education on the problem, thereby softly frustrating experts.

According to him, personal information, including date of birth, data of family members, residential address and personal worth, among others, are private to every individual and should be seriously guarded.

Folayan added that personal information of, for instance, hospital patients, school pupils, students and bank customers and so on are readily available on the waste paper released to petty traders to wrap roasted plantain, groundnuts and others.

Instead of shredding such papers or keep them because of the sensitivity of the information, such organisations expose people to criminals who need such information as raw materials for their criminal activities.

He, therefore, called on different stakeholders to begin to raise awareness over the problem before it boomerangs beyond measure.

Other speakers from Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and other African countries highlighted similar dangerous cultures in their countries and called for proper scrutiny of Internet policies in the continent.

The seminar has as its theme: “Data Privacy and Protection in Africa – Developing an Evidence-driven Multistakeholder-based Approach.” It is hosted by the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP).

A member of the Steering Committee of the African Academic Network on Internet Policy, which organised the seminar, Dr. Temitope Aladesanmi, said that the seminar was aimed at providing the frame-work for African perspective to data protection and security in the global Internet community.

He said the outcome would provide policy briefs that would be presented to the government to feed policy formulation on data protection and security in African countries.

Also, Executive Vice Chairman, ISGPP, Dr. Tunji Olaopa, said the seminar was the first step in identifying research gaps in Internet policy in African countries.

He added that the seminar series would also raise African voice within the global Internet community from its current abysmally low level.

Olaopa stated that the world was already digital-driven to the level that Africans could no longer operate as bystanders but major participants, bringing the unique African perspective to the use of the Internet.