NIMC CEO Tasks Stakeholders on Privacy Rights, Security of Nigerians over Data Protection Bill

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Director-General of NIMC, Aliyu Aziz

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Aliyu Aziz, on Tuesday tasked Public Officers, Multinational Companies (MNCs), Data Aggregators, Controllers and stakeholders in the emerging subsector to take into cognizance the overarching imperative of the privacy rights and security of Nigerians as it concerns the data protection bill.

Engr. Aziz, who spoke at broader spectrum of stakeholder review and validation workshop on the ongoing draft data protection bill for Nigeria, in Abuja, said inputs to the bill must meet the country’s broader and holistic legal enabling environment, multi sectoral needs of the country and beyond with regards to user privacy, security, protection, access and use of data including the designation of an independent data protection authority.

The NIMC boss however acknowledged that a robust legal and regulatory framework underpinning an ID system is a critical enabler for the success of a national data protection bill.

According to him, this is fundamental to the entire ID project of Nigeria’s ID project considered as one of the most crucial legal and regulatory frameworks for promoting trust in the foundational ID System with regards to the protection of privacy and personal data.

While underscoring the essence of the workshop, he said: “We all know that stakeholder consultation and involvement is critical to ensuring effective reforms and smoother implementation of any legislation and I want to thank each and every one of you for making out time to be part of this forum and also participate in this very important process where all ID stakeholders have the opportunity to discuss, share insights, provide guidance and agree a common vision towards the finalization of the draft data protection bill.

“It is with the above background in mind that I want to also inform all the ID stakeholders and participants here that the enactment of the data protection legislation is a condition towards the credit and financing arrangement for the accelerated Digital ID Development project funded by the World Bank, AFD and European Investment Bank, which are development partners.”

He added: “As stakeholders in the ID ecosystem, your constructive feedback and inputs would be valuable towards enriching and strengthening the bill and most importantly ensuring inclusion in the decision-making process of the bill drafting and enactment.”

While tasking the experts, he said: “The task before us is to ensure that the draft bill supports a broader and holistic legal enabling environment and meets multi sectoral needs of our country and beyond with regards to user privacy, security, protection, access and use of data including the designation of an independent data protection authority.”

In his remark, the Permanent Secretary, Political and Economic Affairs, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mr. Andrew David Adejo, said federal government has in the last few years demonstrated interest towards reforming the identity landscape in the country, especially as it concerns privacy rights and data protection.

Adejo, said the workshop organized by NIMC, signposts a milestone in Nigeria’s our quest to instituting the necessary safeguards that will protect its citizens’ personal data adding that this becomes more pertinent in this growing age of information technology and its associated cyber-crimes.

He said: “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.

“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.”

According to him, 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.” he said.