General News of Wednesday, 26 June 2019
Deputy Communications Minister, Vincent Sowah Odotei, has indicated that personal data of Africans need to be protected by the constitution just like their fundamental human rights.
Though protection of personal data and privacy of individuals is a global challenge, African countries need to strategize, enact laws that will protect the data of governmental institutions and citizens, he stated.
Speaking at the 1st Africa Region Data Protection and Privacy Conference in Accra, Mr Sowah asserted that, the more data is used daily, the higher the risk of abuse whether intentionally or not.
According to the Minister, Ghana is making strides in protecting the data of its citizens during this era of unprecedented cybercrimes.
He further said, “President Akufo-Addo is working tirelessly to digitize services in the country, however, he is also calling for rigorous measures to ensure that the valuable data digitization generated is protected.
Mr Sowah also said, “Ghana is collaborating with stakeholders such as the Council of Europe, US Security government Initiative, Commonwealth and other international organizations to implement other initiatives to help curb cybercrime.”
He further stated that the public is being encouraged to know their rights to privacy and the need to protect it whilst data controllers are equally being educated on how to handle the data they generate or collect from the citizens.
Speaking in the same vein, Minister for planning, John Gyan Baffour also noted that the current environment of collecting and retrieving personal data is fast evolving thus, presenting us with the challenge of effective management of data in the bid to prevent unauthorized, careless and ignorant use of personal data.
Mr Baffour said, “Data today is the bedrock of our rapidly changing world providing our citizens with opportunities and indeed with challenges as well. Data protection issues are also human right issues”.
“How then do we protect fundamental human rights as enshrined in our various national constitutions while at the same time guaranteeing one’s right to information” he quizzed.
Stating some challenges Africa faces when it comes to data management and protection, Mr Gyan Baffour stated inadequate expertise as a top challenge. Out of 54 countries in the Africa Region, only 17 have passed the data protection law. This, he averred that wasn’t encouraging and needs to change.
“The Africa region has been slow in enacting relevant data protection laws, and establishment of supervisory authorities”.
He, however, mentioned that Ghana has passed Data Protection Act 2012, Act 843 to regulate the protection of personal data. Also, Data protection commission has been implemented to enforce the law and guarantee data safety.