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NDPR has made landmark impact on data privacy – NITDA

Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) has made a landmark impact on data privacy, nation’s reputation and strengthening  personal information protection in 2 years. 

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Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Director General, NITDA, said this while speaking Monday at the ongoing National Privacy Week 2022 Press Conference and unveiling of The Week’s Activities in Abuja.

He said if anyone was in doubt of the importance of data protection, the massive global shift towards the frontiers of the digital economy has effectively cleared that doubt. Recent economic statistics attest to this fact.

“For instance, ICT notched a 17.92% contribution to Nigeria’s GDP in the Second Quarter of 2021 – the highest in our history. This out-performs most of the economic sectors surveyed by the National Bureau of Statistics.”

Recalled, NITDA issued the extant Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) in 2019.  He said the success stories of the digital economy would have been tainted by horrendous abuses, if citizens who are the sole agents of socio-economic transactions are left without legal protection.

(As we celebrate Data Privacy week in this New Year, we must render our stewardship in data protection, exchange ideas with you and lay out the agenda for the Year 2022.”

Impact of the NDPR on Data Privacy In Nigeria

The first thing we must emphasise in this regard is that data privacy is not a mere cliché for describing freedom from an embarrassing intrusion into what an individual does not wish to share with the public. Properly speaking, it is a technical concept that encompasses the safeguards for the dignity of human person, the safety of lives and livelihoods and the socio-economic integrity of a sovereign state in the frontiers of digital civilisation.  

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The NDPR has made a landmark impact on data privacy in Nigeria.  Significantly, NDPR has broadened citizen’s right to privacy as enshrined in Section 37, Part 4, 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  Courts of competent jurisdiction have taken judicial notice of this phenomenal impact. A classic example is the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of:  Incorporated Trustees of Digital Lawyers Initiative & Ors. V. National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) CA/ IB/291/2020.  We must note that the administration of justice regarding data privacy is a critical index in assessing the adequacy level of a country; with this landmark decision, Nigeria has earned herself a pride of place in the frontiers of fundamental rights.

Furthermore, before the advent of NDPR, organisations had no functional accountability system for data privacy.  NDPR created a functional accountability system for data privacy. From zero data privacy audit compliance in 2018 to 635 in 2020 and over 1,230 audit compliance in 2021. The top-performing sectors are:

1. Finance 41%

2. Consultancy 9.2%

3. ICT and Digital Media 8.8

4. Manufacturing 7.9%

What we can glean from the foregoing is a growing level of awareness. More and more, organisations and citizens are becoming conscious of the power of data and the need to regulate data processing in the interest of both individual and national security.   

Nigeria’s Growing International Reputation in Data Privacy

With a population estimated to be over 200 million citizens strong, our footprints in data processing traverse every conceivable plan of human endeavour. What we do or fail to do cannot go unnoticed. Gladly, our measures in data protection are in tune with the emerging norms on data privacy in the international community. In less than two years of active implementation of NDPR in Nigeria, we were admitted to the Common Thread Network (a Network of Data Protection Authorities of Commonwealth countries). We also got accepted as full member of the Network of African Data Protection Authorities (NADPA). Our contribution at the Africa Union’s Policy and Regulatory Initiative for Digital Africa (PRIDA) Data Protection Laws’ Harmonisation Work Group led to Nigeria being considered for inclusion in the list of countries where a developed framework for data laws harmonisation was tested. 

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Strategy for Strengthening Data Privacy Protection In Nigeria.

NITDA is taking a continuum of measures towards strengthening Data Privacy. We share the belief that: the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Thus, our first measure was to licence Data Protection Compliance Organizations (DPCOs). DPCOs are mandated to, inter alia, carry out: Data Protection Regulations Compliance and Breach Services for Data Controllers and Data Administrators; Training and Awareness Services; Privacy Breach Remediation Planning and Support, etc. It is encouraging to note that we now have 103 DPCOs and we have created approximately 7,680 jobs for Nigerians in this regard. At the same time, the sum of N4,080,000,000 has been reported as the estimated value of Data Protection Industry. Part of our vigilance measures is to monitor DPCOs and data controllers closely. We have developed an auditing template and will be issuing codes of conduct from time to time. This is to ensure that the services being rendered by DPCOs are in tune with the letters and the spirit of the NDPR.

Capacity Building

Capacity building and awareness are pivotal measures to strengthen data privacy, NITDA embarked upon a series of educational programmes. In 2021 alone, NITDA executed and played a leading role in 135 capacity building programmes. Worthy of note is our pilot programmes in creating awareness among vulnerable citizens – particularly teenagers and young adults. In 2021, we carried out training programmes on NDPR in 52 secondary schools across Nigeria. The various capacity building initiatives culminated in the training of a total number of about 5,746 Nigerian. We are particularly excited by the fact that Lagos State University has developed data privacy into a full-fledged course for students while other academic institutions are also putting in place various mechanisms to entrench Data Protection in their curricula.

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National certification body on NDPR

On the part of the government, we have commenced the process of having a national certification body on NDPR in order to build the requisite indigenous capability for driving the sector and also save Nigerians the huge amount of foreign exchange being paid for foreign certifications. I am glad to announce that the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), has already approved the process and we have commenced work in earnest.

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