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Pantami Canvasses Legislation to Protect Nigeria’s Vast Data Asset

Pantami Canvasses Legislation to Protect Nigeria’s Vast Data Asset

Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr. Isa Pantami has said Nigeria needs a law to protect the vast data generated in the country.

Pantami spoke yesterday, at a one-day stakeholders’ workshop in Abuja, organised by the Nigerian Data Protection Bureau (NDPB), with support from the Nigerian Identify for Development (ID4D).

The event was organised to get contributions from stakeholders on the data protection bill.

He said: “The data being generated today is mindboggling and because of the huge data being generated, we must have a legislation in place to ensure that there is confidentiality and privacy of that data so that the data will not be abused.

“In order to ensure confidentiality, privacy and security of our citizens’ data, we commenced the process of having a principal legislation in Nigeria Data Protection law.

“The quantity of data generated in Nigeria in the last three years increased by 202 per cent.”

According to Pantami, the process was initially coordinated by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), adding that President Muhammadu Buhari later approved a full-blown agency – the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB)

He explained that the, “the Fourth Industrial Revolution was about data generation as citizens submit their data to government or private institutions, adding that some countries commercialise data.”

According to him, “that is why we are very proactive in Nigeria in order to ensure that there is no vacuum.”

He also said relevant government bodies needed to protect citizens’ data, noting that that was the reason why they put in place a regulatory framework in place pending when a data protection law will be enacted.

“We came up with the Nigeria Data Protection regulation and relying on our regulatory powers, immediately commenced enforcement because a subsidiary legislation is considered a law up to the Supreme Court

“The reason for having it is to ensure that there is no vacuum. The 1999 constitution specifically states that citizens’ correspondences and communication must be private and confidential and in Section 37 of the constitution, data protection was clearly mentioned except under the Cybycrime 2015 where there is a provision of Lawful Intercept, where security agencies establish a prima facie case before intercepting certain communication.

“It is a criminal offence to access data in Nigeria without permission,” he added

In his remarks, the Chairman, Senate Committee on ICT and Cybersecurity, Yakubu Useni said, “This bill is for all of us. It has been modeled skeletally and we are here to add flesh to it, to make it a full- fledged bureau without the legislation on it.

“It can’t function very well. We should all make our contributions when it is uploaded on the website.”

The Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of NDPB), Vincent Olatunji, advised stakeholders to go to the agency’s website and make their contributions to the draft before it would be submitted to the executive.

According to him, “with all the inputs we have gotten from the stakeholders, we got a draft from the consultant and at the end of today, we will update it and upload it on our website and will leave it there for one week for stakeholders to make further input before it goes to the National Assembly as an executive bill.”

Earlier in his opening address, the Coordinator of NID4D Project, Solomon Odole explained that the process of protecting data in Nigeria started in 2019,  with the National Data Protection Regulation as a subsidiary legislation enacted based on the provisions of the NITDA Act 2007.

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