DPCOs earn over 2 billion in first year, as  Pantami reiterates role of data protection in Digital economy

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By Ibiyemi Mathew

Minister of Communications and Digital economy,Dr Isa Ali Pantami has revealed that Data Protection Compliance Organisations (DPCOs) earned about 2 billion naira within the past one year.

Pantami who made this known during the official presentation of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) performance report 2019-2020 at the Digital Economic Complex, Mbora, Abuja said the efforts to diversify the economy and make it digitally compliant have started yielding the desired results with over 2, 600 direct jobs created within the past one year and Data Protection Compliance Organisations (DPCOs) earning about 2 billion naira.

Pantami, who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approval of the digital economy initiative said the approval by President provided the platform for all initiatives within the context of the policy to flourish, and described data as the oil of the digital economy.

He further reiterated the importance of data protection to the realization of a digital economy.

According to him, “The integrity of the digital economy relies, to a large extent, on the integrity and protection of data.

“I have followed the development and implementation of the data protection and regulation policy because I was clear of what the government wanted to achieve with the NDPR.

“I have reviewed the report we are about to launch today. I am proud to see that we have through the NDPR added 2,686 job roles, thereby creating massive opportunities for young Nigerians to be recruited as Data Protection Officers, Data Protection Compliance Organisations, Compliance officers among others.

“The DPCOs have also earned over N2 billion in the first year of implementation. This is the intent of our digital economy policy- empowering Nigerians in a way that ensures global competitiveness.

“I am also very proud of Nigeria’s appointment as the Vice Chair of the African Union’s Data Protection Harmonisation Working Group. Being recognised among 26 African countries is a great recognition of the hard work and innovation we are investing in this regard.

“In my assessment of the great work done so far, I still see room for more enforcement. NITDA, as the data protection authority, has my full support to ensure entities who wantonly breach personal data are brought to book as soon as possible.

“I am aware of some quick loan service providers who use personal data to defame and threaten their customers, such issues should be looked into in line with the NDPR. I also want to state that non-filing of data protection audit is a violation of the law. Enforcement of this provision would be more vigorously pursued going forward.

“This therefore brings me to the issue of Data Protection Compliance Organisations (DPCO). I encourage NITDA to increase regulatory oversight over current DPCOs and carefully consider current pending applications in line with its published criteria and processes.”

On his part, the Director General of National Information Technology Development Agency, Malam Kashifu Abdullahi said NDPR was launched not only as a regulatory policy by NITDA, but leverage digital economy, ensuring economic diversification and create an industry on how to harness data.

He informed that NITDA had within one year licensed 70 DPCOs and ensure that over 750 compliance notices were issued while working in partnership with the Nigeria Police to carry out investigations on data breaches.

He added that the concept of launching the NDPR in 2019 is beyond protection of personal data but noted that it is helping the country diversify to digital economy and also in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda on lifting millions of Nigerians out of poverty.

Similarly, Mr. Tunde Balogun, Convener, Association of DPCOs, urged NITDA to focus on enforcement of the regulation and leave its operationalisation to DPCOs.