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Data Protection Week: FG Unveils Plans To Digitise Govt Procedures

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L-R: The chairman, House of Representatives Committee on ICT and Cybersecurity, Stanley Adedeji, Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani and National commissioner, National Data Protection Commission, Dr. Vincent Olatunji during the press briefing at the weekend in Abuja.

The Federal Government has announced ambitious plans to digitise government procedures to improve efficiency and protect citizens’ data.

The revelation was made by the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, during a press conference to mark Global Data Privacy Day, themeed “Take Control of your Data”. The initiative is part of Nigeria’s week-long Data Protection Week.

Tijani emphasised the interconnected nature of modern gadgets, leading to an exponential increase in daily data production. He highlighted President Bola Tinubu’s mandate to transform public services through technology, indicating a significant shift toward digitalisation. Tijani explained, “A lot of the things we do in public service will be digitised. Many services consumed by citizens in the coming months and years will also be digitalised”.

Recognising the potential risks associated with data collection and sharing, the minister underscored the importance of protecting data appropriately. To achieve this, the National Data Protection Commission (NDPC) will play a crucial role, with support from Galaxy Backbone to oversee the data exchange system and ensure compliance with established guidelines.

Tijani emphasised the need for manufacturers of digital devices to prioritise the security of personal information they gather. Acknowledging a knowledge gap in data protection, the minister outlined the focus of the Data Protection Week on enlightenment, aiming to bridge this gap and instigate behavioral change.

In his goodwill message, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on ICT and Cybersecurity, Stanley Adedeji pledged the National Assembly’s commitment to ensuring compliance in its mode of data collection. He stressed the importance of automation in data interaction with ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and urged organisations to be compliant to avoid litigation.

Adedeji highlighted the early stage of development in the data protection ecosystem, urging institutions to participate actively. He emphasized the necessity for capacity building to familiarize individuals with data protection laws and cultivate an attitudinal change towards data privacy. The National Assembly committed to supporting the NDPC through legislation and collaboration, amending laws for increased effectiveness and transparency.

The National Commissioner of NDPC, Dr. Vincent Olatunji shared that the commission had generated over N400 million in ensuring compliance with data protection and its remedial actions. The NDPC, empowered by the Nigeria Data Protection Bill signed into law in June 2023, is mandated to enforce compliance in data protection.

Data Privacy Day is celebrated in the US, Canada, Israel, Nigeria, Qatar and 47 European nations. The annual event aims to raise awareness of data subjects’ rights and promote privacy and best practices for data protection. In Nigeria, Data Protection Week is observed from January 28 to February 4, 2024.

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