From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
The National Commissioner of Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB), Dr. Vincent Olatunji, on Thursday, decried the low level of compliance to data protection and privacy regulations in Nigeria especially in public institutions.
Olatunji, who spoke while briefing Journalists in Abuja, disclosed plans by the bureau, to take data protection awareness campaigns down to all the local governments areas in the country. He noted that those at the grass roots were most susceptible to fall victims of data privacy infractions and stressed the need for a principal law to protect citizens’ data.
According to the Commissioner, for Nigerian businesses to be competitive in the modern global economy, they must be embedded in a resilient and safe data processing ecosystem. “The importance of a strong legislation cannot be gainsaid if we are to secure the rights and fundamental freedoms of our citizens and foreign residents in Nigeria. Nothing less is expected of us a responsible sovereign state and an avid believer in the principle of international comity.” He said.
As part of efforts to drive data protection compliance in public institutions, the NDPB boss said the bureau had embarked on working visits to various establishments in the public sector to preach the data privacy gospel. “This sector is central to the resilience of Nigeria data governance ecosystem. As of this moment, we have engaged with over 50 establishments at the highest level and we are cheered by the progress being recorded in this regard.
“For instance, in the health and gaming sectors, we are working on sectorial guidelines. Approximately 90% of our population may have various degrees of sensitive personal data being processed in the health sector. Over 60 million youths are sharing personal data in the gaming industry. You will agree, therefore, that the advent of automated data processing which could have significant impact on the enjoyment of private lives has made data protection imperative.” Olatunji
The Commissioner also said the Bureau had conducted series of trainings for its staff and other institutions and disclosed plans to train 50 journalists on data protection by the first quarter of 2023.
He said: “Evidently, we have prioritized the training of press men and women and the Bureau is committed to doing more. Within the 1st Quarter of 2023, we are planning to organize a train the trainers workshop for 50 journalists to be drawn from both the mainstream and new media.”
Olatunji further disclosed that the NDPB in collaboration with the Nigerian Police, has launched a massive investigation to the activities of many telecommunications and financial institutions as well as loan sharks.
“We cannot over emphasize the importance of compliance due to the vulnerabilities in the digital space. We are currently carrying out full scale investigations of alleged violations in the telecom, banking and gaming sectors and we can report that appropriate remedial actions have been initiated.
“We are currently working with the Police Investigation Unit at the Bureau to ensure prompt action in some cases involving shadowy data controllers. As much as we rely on non-criminal processes in redressing breaches of data privacy and protection, it will be sorely wrong for any data controller or data processor to test the resolve of government in bringing willful violators to justice.” He said.