The Nigerian government has intensified its moves to protect individual’s data in the country.
Andrew David Adejo, the Permanent Secretary, Political and Economic Affairs, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, made this known at the Data Protection Bill 2020 validation workshop held in Abuja on Monday.
He said the workshop marks a key milestone in the government’s quest to institute the necessary safeguards that will protect personal data as individuals.
According to him, this becomes more pertinent in this growing age of information technology and its associated cyber-crimes.
Adejo disclosed that over the last few years, the Federal Government has demonstrated key interest towards reforming the identity landscape in Nigeria, adding that crucial to the reform process however, are the twin issues of privacy rights and data protection.
“One of the critical components of the Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) Project is to strengthen the Legal and Institutional Framework as it concerns Digital Identity in Nigeria,” he said.
“As expected in any modern society, in order to adequately control the capture, storage and utilization of data and to protect us from abuses, it is essential to have a data protection law which can regulate and shape the activities of individuals, organizations and the government in matters related to the processing of personal information.
“Each time an individual requests for a service, purchases a product on the internet through a merchant’s website or platform, registers an email, accesses health care, pay taxes, or enter into any contract, that individual has to dispense with his or her personal information.
“Even without the individual’s consent, data and information about the individual is being generated, stored and processed by agencies and other organizations that individual may have interacted with, manually or through automated means.
“The only way citizens can have confidence in both government and corporate entities is through strong data privacy and data protection practices, with effective legislation to help minimize breaches and other forms of data exploitation.
“The future and the success of the local digital economy we are building will be determined by the belief in, or distrust, of our identity management system.
“Thus to build an identity management system that eliminates distrust we need to bear the following, amongst others, in mind: Leveraging on global best practices with adaptation to local realities; Clear and unambiguous territorial scope; Independence of the Regulatory body(Commission); Effective and practical exemptions from personal and household use of data; Clear understanding of security considerations, national interests etc so as not to create an “Orwellian Republic”; and Specific limitations on processing personal and household data.
“There are quite a number of extant practices that have been adopted over time either as a stopgap measure or as interim guidelines but have proved as well as not in line with international best practice, contemporary uses of digital data all leading to a litany of challenges.
“The Data Protection Bill which we are gathered to deliberate upon and validate, is a major step amongst many steps that will hopefully culminate in the birth of a data protection law which is necessary to promote trust under the Digital Identity Ecosystem particularly as it relates to the protection of privacy rights and personal data, strengthening institutional and administrative framework, inclusion and non-discrimination, interoperability of identity databases and registries etc.”