Tanzania: Personal Data Protection Law On Horizon

THE government is in the process of drafting a personal data protection law that it says wasn't intended to curb press freedom and freedom of expression but instead consolidate people's rights.

Works, Transport and Communication Permanent Secretary, Dr Mary Sassabo, said here this week during a public hearing on the proposed Personal Data Protection Act, 2018, that it intends to empower people with the right of personal identity "but will require all to keep their data."

"Formalities for the law were delayed by internal and external deliberations," she said, pointing out that the drafting process started way back in 2009. "This law will provide solutions to problems stemming from rapid technological advancements."

Dr Sassabo said the nation had witnessed how technology had enabled some people to manipulate information, noting that the law would set procedures and guidance on protecting personal data. "It will also set appropriate procedures for gathering personal information," she added.

The Permanent Secretary said the law would also play a crucial role in the development process as individuals' information would be centralised in one single system. She said users would be allowed to access specific information according to available circumstances.

Eng Eunice Masigati, a legal officer from the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication, said the drafting process was in the final stage, following which it would be submitted to the Cabinet for approval. She said members of the public had been victims of cyber attack in one way or another. The information targeted in the legislation included image and names.

"This information if not well protected, may cause social problems for individuals, community members and the nation at large." She further explained that the new proposed legislation did not contradict seemingly similar one such as the Cybercrime Act, 2015 and The e-transaction Act, 2015 but covered gaps that were not addressed by preceding laws.

Engineer Stephen Wangwe of the Dar es Salaam Internet Centre (DIC) at the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) offices, emphasised that if data was not protected, it could pose high security risks for individual and the nation. He explained that some countries such as South Africa, Ghana, DRC and Mozambique enacted such legislation many years ago.

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