Nigerian Govt Affirms Commitment to Data Protection

28 January 2020

As the world celebrates the International Data Privacy Day, the Nigerian government has said its commitment to data protection for its citizens is unshaken.

Speaking at the celebration organised in Abuja by the National Information Technology Agency,(NITDA) on Tuesday, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, said his administration will ensure "that data is not abused in the country."

"Any data under the control of the government or individuals will not be abused under my watch as the Minister," he said. "As the Chief ICT policy maker in Nigeria, I am here for telecom operators, regulators and consumers."

Mr Pantami said the entire digital economy relies on data "as such, data protection is key to driving a digital economy for Nigeria."

"Looking at our population, it is the right time for Nigeria to drive the digital economy," he said

The minister said telecom operators must improve the quality of their services "else they will lose in the long run."

"Nigerian youths are digital natives, any telecom operator that fails to improve the quality of services will at the long run lose the market in Nigeria," the minister said.

January 28 has been dedicated as international data privacy day. Last year, the day was celebrated in nearly 50 countries, including the United States of America, India, Canada, and others.

The celebration started in 2007 after European Council declared January 28 as a Data Privacy Day in 2006.

On January 25, 2019, Mr Pantami, who was then the Director-General NITDA, issued the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR).

This served as a response to the global call for privacy regulation. The action has put Nigeria on a global map of digital nations.

Expert

Meanwhile, an ICT expert, Hakeem Ajijola, said the Internet has reached a pivotal point, "where some level of regulation is required to ensure the stability, integrity and survivability of the platform."

He said there are "fine lines between suitable legislation, regulation, censorship and abuse of digital rights."

"The fundamentals behind the failures and challenges of technology are often human failings and frailties - greed, lies, incompetence, ego, but we must now add the new political aspects such as state-funded cyber-actors, extremism and terrorist motivated hackers," he said.

He also said: "These are issues our society, especially its national and corporate leadership must deal with to ensure short and long-term national, corporate competitive survivability and to secure citizens wellbeing and livelihood."

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