The irony of data privacy in Ghana

Renault

Data privacy, also referred to as information privacy, is the aspect of information technology (IT) that deals with the preparedness of an organization or individual to decide what data about him/her in a computer system can be shared with third parties.

The Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the legislation which has replaced the Data Protection Directives 95/46/EC. This regulation has become necessary in order to balance the protection of individual’s privacy rights as well as the rights of organizations and governments to collect and use data for business and administrative purposes. The new data protection law took effect from the 25th of May, 2018.

The Data Protection Act, 2012(843) sets out the rules and principles governing the collection, use, disclosure and care for your personal data or information by a data controller or processor. As the management committee, you are ultimately responsible under the Data Protection Act 2012 and need to ensure that your organization’s practices are compliant.

The Data Protection Act 2012 aims to strike a balance between the rights of individuals and the interests of those with legitimate reasons for using personal information.  Individuals, for example, are given the rights to access certain information held on them hence the establishment of Data Protection Commission.

We are fond of collecting, handling and disposing off data like the way we throw out waste water without due consideration to the effects.

Organizations should ensure that the relevant schedule officers understand the revised definitions being put forward by the GDPR.

They should be able to account for the differences in relation to their policies, procedures or other documents that use such descriptions.

For instance:  internal policies and procedures that address data protection issues ie: HR policies, IT policies, and (if applicable) any policies affecting individual customers, are reviewed to conform to acceptable context of the GDPR. Situations like those below would also be understood and avoided:

What is practiced in Ghana ?

Here are a few examples:

  • Photos of children less than 24 months uploaded on a website in the name of promotion to win a hamper.

Which of the participating parents will ask the necessary question? I see excitement with parents that their children are ‘stars’ at below 3years.

  • One is requested to write names, address and contact phone numbers on a sheet of paper titled attendance sheet without thinking about where it goes after the information is collected.
  • You have left or forgot your identity card after tendering it in at a service point (hospitals, banks, etc) and it is displayed at the counter or a location where everyone can see when in actual fact that document was used to process a transaction at the same service point.

Could we do better by learning to protect people’s privacy?

  • Ghanaians: give out their names, residential address; date of birth among others to websites and that information are displayed on the sites with their photos like the ghanamps.com.
  • Include their date of birth and phone numbers on Social Media sites without thinking about the consequences.
  • We connect with you on social media or add you to groups without prior notification.

Perhaps it is time for schools to work in a cross-curriculum manner considering the variety that needs to be introduced into teaching and learning in the context of the Data Protection Law.

Digital Literacy; what I describe as the path to establishing a balanced digital lifestyle in a child cannot be overlooked in all of the approaches to ensure they (children) individuals Create, Connect and Share respect in a digitally perverted world.

J Initiative- an organization advocating for the protection of children and young people online would wish that organizations that make use of other people’s data run to the Data Protection Commission to do the needful in a form of registration, training and advice on how to handle people’s personal data.

It is important we empower children to use technology respectfully and responsibly based on the instructions of the Internet while they play and learn.

AWO AIDAM AMENYAH

Executive Director

Digital Literacy & Safety Advocate

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