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FG moves for safety, privacy of Nigerians’ data

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
05 October 2022   |   4:35 am
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, has said with increasing data generation, it is necessary to put in place, a principal legislation for security...

Isa Pantami

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, has said with increasing data generation, it is necessary to put in place, a principal legislation for security, confidentiality and privacy to check abuse.
He warned that it is a criminal offence to access data in the country without permission, adding that the 1999 Constitution (as amended) clearly states that citizens’ correspondences and communications must be private and confidential except under the Cybycrimes Act 2015, where there is a provision for lawful interception provided security agencies could establish a prima facie case.

Besides, arrangements have been finalised to present the National Data Protection Bill before the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval and onward transmission by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly for legislative action

Speaking at a national validation workshop on Data Protection Bill organised by the National Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) in collaboration with the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (NDID4D), yesterday, in Abuja, Pantami observed that the process of enacting the law began in 2019 with the National Data Protection Regulation as a subsidiary legislation passed based on the provision of the NITDA Act 2007.

The minister said the Federal Government realised the need to have a principal law floated as an executive bill to accommodate all areas not yet backed by full legislation.

He said: The data being generated today are mind-boggling. And because of the huge data being generated, we must have a principal legislation in place to ensure that there are confidentiality and privacy to check abuse. We came up with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation, and relying on our regulatory powers, we immediately commenced enforcement because a subsidiary legislation is considered a law up to the supreme. The first industrial revolution was about data generation, citizens submit their data to government or private institutions, some countries commercialise data and that is why we are very proactive in Nigeria to ensure that there is no vacuum.”

“In the fourth industrial revolution, data are s key. The quantity of data generated in Nigeria in the last three years increased by 202 per cent. The whole quantity of data generated globally falls approximately within five exabytes. In 48 hours, the quantity of data generated globally is equated to the quantity of data that was generated within a period of 5000 years.”

The process was initially coordinated by National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), but President Muhammadu Buhari later approved a full-blown agency, NDPB.

Earlier, National Commissioner of the NDPB, Vincent Olatunji, pointed out that data, as the new oil, must be protected from abuse and infringement.

He said the Bureau was engaging stakeholders on data protection law and seeking their cooperation for viability of the proposed piece of legislation when passed.

In his remarks, Chairman, Senate Committee on ICT and Cybercrimes, Yakubu Oseni, concurred that the country needs a principal legislation to guarantee safety and privacy of data.

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