Data Protection Key to Digital Economy, Says Expert

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By Emma Okonji

Convener of the Association of Licensed Data Protection Compliance Organisations of Nigeria (ALDPCON) and CEO of Data Services Protection Limited (DSPL), Mr. Tunde Balogun has described data as the crude oil of the digital economy.

Balogun, who spoke at a recent training session for some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government in Oyo State, said Nigeria’s increasing official interest in data, was because government was beginning to come to terms with data as the real asset of the digital economy.

According to him the federal government in its wisdom, through the National Information Technology Agency (NITDA), issued the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) of 2019, as the principal data protection legislation to address concerns around privacy and protection of personal data which also focuses on the grave consequences of leaving personal data processing unregulated.

The NDPR issued by NITDA on January 25, 2019, pursuant to Section 32 of the NITDA Act 2007 as subsidiary legislation to the NITDA Act 2007 is only a purveyor of the wider sets of data legislations now at the National Assembly expected to guide Nigeria’s data protection journey and march into the digital economy, said Balogun, whose company is licensed to operate as a Data Protection Organisation (DPCO).

DPCOs are licensed under the NDPR to provide professional data protection services to public and private entities. There about over 70 licensed DPCOs tasked with monitoring compliance to the NDPR.

Balogun admitted that there was a growing awareness among stakeholders on data, as an asset worth a high level of protection.

“The good thing is that some of our people are beginning to understand why data must be protected in all ramifications. Plateau state started this journey last year.

“Also, a good example is the government of Oyo state where we are currently implementing data protection services for about eight ministries, departments and agencies as part of the first phase of the scheme.

“It is still going to all other ministries but we started with these eight MDAs because they handle more data than most other MDAs and it even goes beyond mere putting facilities in place to enforce compliance with data protection.

“This is where we are shoulder high than other DCOs. Many people think data protection is only about data auditing but it goes beyond that because we provide other deliverables. In our case, we do auditing, we train staffs, organise lectures, we ensure full privacy and arrange workshops to drive home the point,” Balogun explained.

He stated that data collection is the most resourceful enterprise in the world and that most successful companies in the world are not in the Oil and Gas, Banking or insurance but in the collection of data.
He said this was why government was insisting on protection of data of Nigerians in both the public and private sectors of the country.

Balogun said data protection remained part of the larger layers of strategies being in place by governments all over the world to checkmate cybercrimes, which he said had attracted the concern of well-meaning human beings.

He added that it is a good thing that the government of Nigeria is keying into it since it is a global affair from which the country cannot afford to run away from.

He, therefore, enjoin all public and private sector organisations to make sure they protect data in their possession, adding that the government would soon begin enforcement of data protection, which he said would come with heavy penalties.