Data Privacy: Our data 99% secure — Minister


Dr Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, has assured Nigerians and the international community that citizens’ and the country’s data are 99 per cent secure.

Pantami spoke on Thursday in Abuja at the National Data Privacy Day celebration, in line with global date marked every Jan. 28.

The event was organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

He said that data privacy struggle had achieved a lot for the country as its protection was enshrined in laws, bylaws and Acts of different institutions of government and the Constitution.

“Nigeria is committed to data privacy and protection as demonstrated in Section 37 of our Constitution. So far we have 99 per cent privacy of data ensured in Nigeria.

“Our data is protected and we are also glad to inform the international community and investors that their data is protected in Nigeria.

“That section says that the privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondences, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications are hereby guaranteed and protected.

“Data privacy law is also in the Act of NITDA 2007, the Nigerian Communications Commission Act of 2007, the National Identity Management Commission Act and the Nigerian Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) as the ultimate bylaw,” he said.

The minister also said that in medical profession, it was against the law disclosing patient’s records, hence implementing the data privacy at different levels ensured protection.

He further stated that data privacy was in line with the development regulation pillar of the National Digital Economy and Policy Strategy (NDEPS), established in November 2019.

According to him, data protection regulation is not made to restrict people, businesses or institutions but designed for the country’s development and treated with confidentiality.

The NITDA Director-General, Mr Kashifu Inuwa, said the issuance of identity, data collection and management were needed for digital economy, hence steps for protection must be taken seriously.

Inuwa said that with the establishment of the NDPR, NITDA was appointed Vice Chair of AU Technical Working Group on Data Localisation and Harmonisation, which created opportunities for private sector players among other benefits.

He commended Pantami for setting the pace for data protection in 2019 when he was the director general of the agency, saying the step had brought many benefits for the country.

Also, Mr Moctar Yedaly, Head of ICT, AU Commission, said that adapting to the new normal had made technology relevant, thereby increasing the usage of data.

Yedaly cautioned that the use of privacy data should be lawful, while individuals should be careful of the information they gave online.

He called for consistent awareness creation on data privacy and issues relating to data protection.

Representative of the European Union (EU), Mr Mattia Tempimi, said Nigeria was critical to the new EU Data Protection Regime which sets standards for the right to personal data protection.

Tempimi called on the country to develop a state of the arts data protection regime that could distinguish it from other African countries and in comparison with the EU.

Other goodwill messages were from NCC, Galaxy Backbone Ltd, Nigeria Communication Satellite Limited, NIMC and Institute of Information Management.

Data Privacy day celebration, which began officially in Nigeria on Jan. 25, 2019, with establishment of the NDPR was created to raise awareness on the need to protect private and public data in line with global standards.

The theme of the year’s celebration in the country is “Harnessing Data as Critical Infrastructure for the Digital Economy”.

The week-long programme featured webinars, expo and quiz competition by secondary schools.