From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami has said that to drive Nigeria’s digital economy goal, there is an urgent need to consolidate the country’s components of data privacy regulations.
The Minister stated this Friday, at the commemoration of the World Privacy Day 22 and annual event held every January 28 to raise awareness, promote privacy and data protection best practices.
The event themed “Data Economics in a Digital Economy: Charting Nigeria’s Data Strategy’’ was organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
Pantami, who also presented the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) Performance Report 2020 to 2021 noted that the Constitution of the country, NITDA’s Act of 2007, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) Act and other Acts of some parastatals, have provisions for data privacy protection but not enough clarifications for penalty.
He said no clear regulation states the punishments for breaching data privacy but that the only comprehensive regulation is the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR).
According to the Minister, the regulation required that any data that involved individuals should not be released without the consent of the person, while institutional information could be released within a period.
He said government and private institutions in the past abused customers privacy in the past by publishing their personal information without their consent, adding that the Data Protection Regulation was here to change that.
He said, “Regulation is about creating awareness so that offense cannot be committed.
“It is not about pushing people away not to commit the crime, it is about creating awareness that they will be highly responsible, law abiding and not commit the crime and this is what NDPR has achieved.
“This sector has become another area within the digital economy sector, when it comes to job creation, independence, its essentiality, relevance, and revenue generation.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria through NIMC is working hard to integrate this existing legislation into law.
“The FG will also establish the Data Protection Institution that will work together with NITDA, NIMC, Nigeria Communications Commission and other stakeholders to ensure the enforcement of data privacy, protection, security and many more,’’ He said.
He further noted that the revenue from data protection in 2021 was unprecedented, while hoping that the achievements would be improved upon in 2022.
“This sub-sector has been a very important one in our digital economy sector. It has made ICT among the sectors to contribute highest to our Gross Domestic Product, more than 500 per cent in past years.
Also giving his remarks, Director-General of NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa recalled that the NDPR, established in January 2019, had the objectives to ensure data privacy, secure exchange of data, create jobs, among others.
He said the government was focused on economic diversification and achieving that required privacy, which he said was the future and knowledge based.
According to him, “Wealth could be created from privacy by extracting personal data, creating products and services from it.
“For Nigeria to benefit from the future, we need to reposition well and as a government, we are working to harness the potential of privacy and avoid its perils,’’
He added that technology could be used as a tool and as a weak point.
Dr Vincent Olatunji, Director, E-Government Development and Regulation of the agency, said that implementation of the NDPR from 2020 to 2021 had created 7,680 direct and indirect jobs.
“In 2021, we resolved 2,080 issues compared to 790 in 2020, trained 5,746 people as against none in 2020, received 1,350 calls as against 1,230 in 2020.
“We have facilitated events, issued compliance and enforcement notices and licensed 103 Data Protection Compliance Organisations (DPCOs) in 2021,’’ he said.
The celebration also included a quiz competition by representatives of some secondary schools from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The schools that participated in the competition were Junior Secondary School, Wuse, third position, Intelligent Quotient Academy,Garki 2 came second and Astute Montessori School,Kuje was the first.
Their prizes were N75,000 and three learning devices for third place, N100,000 and three devices for second position, while N150,000 and three learning devices was to the first school.