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Experts harp on need for data protection law

From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja

As Nigeria moves toward digital transformation, stakeholders in the digital communication industry have emphasized the need to put the primary data protection laws statute in place.

The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, said there is currently no legislation governing data protection, but only subsidiary legislation, adding that when the law is passed, it will address the data privacy and confidentiality of Nigerians.

Pantami spoke during a national validation workshop on the data protection bill, organised by the Nigeria Digital Identification Development Project Nigeria (ID4D) in collaboration with Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) on Tuesday in Abuja.

According to him, “The growth of Nigeria’s digital economy drives innovations and free flow of data which in turn implies the need to safeguard the rights, freedom and privacy of citizens. At the core of data protection, legislation is the desire to protect individuals’ right to privacy of their information and to secure lives and properties.

“This is achieved through the implementation of legislations, policies and regulations on data privacy and protection. As we all know, the data being generated today is largely not only in Africa but globally.

“Huge quantity of data is being generated and we must all have legislation in place to ensure that there is confidentiality and privacy of that data that’s being generated and if care is not taken that data that is being generated will be abused particularly in the fourth industrial revolution where data is the key, whatever you do in the industrial revolution data is the key.”

Speaking further, he said: “In some countries of the world the commercialisation of citizen’s data is paramount, it is while we are very proactive in Nigeria in order to ensure that there was no vacuum. We signed up for the Nigerian data protection regulations and immediately we commence the process of principal legislation the reason for the Nigerian data protection legislation is to ensure that there is no vacuum.

In his address, the National commissioner/CEO, NDPB, Dr Vincent Olatunji highlighted the importance of data protection legislation in Nigeria saying that people’s data need to be protected to secure their trust.

“Relevant arrangement of law will benefits Nigerians in society, adding that data protection applies to all workplaces, businesses, society and groups etc,” he said.

Musa Odole, the director of the ID4D development project, stated that the group is prepared to support any legal and institutional efforts to obtain services in Nigeria.

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