Pantami: Data protection, a constitutional requirement

Pantami: Data protection,  a constitutional requirement

Prof. Isa Pantami, Minister, Communications and Digital Economy, has said that the protection of citizens data in Nigeria is not just secondary legislation but a constitutional requirement.

The minister’s spokesperson, Mrs Uwa Suleiman, made this known in a statement on Wednesday, December 1, in Abuja; adding that Pantami said this while addressing the world forum of ministers in London.

This year’s ministers’ Future Tech Forum is titled: “The Future of Trust in Data as a Force for Good.’’

He disclosed that the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) 2019 was in full effect to build trust between the government and the governed, with non-compliance attracting stiff penalties.

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“Nigeria already has some policies in place to ensure the protection of citizens’ data; and to also build trust between government and citizens.

“There is also subsidiary legislation called the guidelines for processing personal data; which gives impetus to the NDPR and assurance of confidentiality to citizens.

“Government also invested in creating awareness among the citizenry to enable understanding of both the regulation and government’s willingness to adhere to the dictates of law regarding confidentiality,” he said.

Pantami said that prior to the NDPR of 2019, the Cybercrimes Act of 2015; provides for “lawful intercept’’ which was only effected when a security institution establishes a Prima Facie case of a crime.

“Otherwise, the confidentiality of citizens’ communications and correspondences were guaranteed,’’ he said.

The minister informed that the Federal Government of Nigeria had engaged the services of Data Protection Compliance officers (DPCOs) to further create awareness.

The DPCOs, he said, were also to serve as middlemen between the government; and aggrieved citizens in addressing breaches where they may occur.

Pantami also noted that data collection played a significant role in aiding government’s proactiveness in curtailing; and managing the COVID-19 challenge in Nigeria.

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