It’s criminal offense to access data in Nigeria without permission – Pantami

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The minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami says it is a criminal offence to access data in Nigeria without permission.

This he said underscored the need to have a principal legislation in place, in order to ensure safety, privacy and confidentiality of data in Nigeria.

And to address the situation, he said the ministry is working hard with critical stakeholders to bequeath the country a principal legislation before the end of this year.

The minister made this known on Tuesday during a National Validation Workshop on the draft National Data Protection Bill held in Abuja.

The bill according to him will be transmitted to the Federal Executive Council for deliberation and if approved by Federal Executive Council will be transmitted to the National Assembly by the President to enable them Kickstart the process of legislation before the commencement of general elections next year.

“There is need to have a principal legislation in place, in order to ensure safety, privacy and confidentiality of data.

“The Bill will be transmitted to the Federal Executive Council for deliberation and if approved by FEC, will be transmitted to the National Assembly by the President to enable them Kickstart the process of legislation before end of December, 2022.

“The reason for having the legislation is to ensure that there is no vacuum. In order to ensure confidentiality, privacy and security of our citizens data, we commenced the process of having a principal legislation in Nigeria Data Protection law.

“The ministry is working hard with critical stakeholders to bequeath a befitting principal legislation for Data Protection before end of the year.”

He said, though, the country has other existing legislations but the country requires a principal legislation to guarantee the safety and privacy of individual and corporate organizations.

He explained that the workshop was necessary to collate stakeholders’ input for an inclusive and rancour free legislation.

“The Bill is very important and without a legislation on it will not make much impact. It is a sector that has unlimited space to be utilized to grow the economy.

“Enacting the National Data Protection law is in the process, this process commenced in January 2019, where we came up with a Nigeria legislation.

He further said that a lot had been achieved in area of creating awareness, job creation.

“We realized the need to have a full fledged law which is a principal legislation which will go as an executive bill in order to accommodate all the areas that is not backed by full legislation.

“The process was initially coordinated by NIMC but President Muhammadu Buhari later approved a full blown agency NDPB.

“The data being generated today is mind boggling, and because of the huge data being generated, we must have a legislation in place to ensure that there is confidentiality and privacy of that data so that the data will not be abused.

“The first industrial revolution was about data generation, citizens submit their data to government or private institutions, some countries commercialize data and that is why we are very proactive in Nigeria in order to ensure that there is no vacuum,

“We came up with the Nigeria Data Protection regulation and relying on our regulatory powers, immediately commenced enforcement because a subsidiary legislation is considered a law up to the Supreme Court.

“The reason for having the legislation is to ensure that there is no vacuum. In order to ensure confidentiality, privacy and security of our citizens data, we commenced the process of having a principal legislation in Nigeria Data Protection law.

“In the 4th industrial revolution, data is key, the quantity of data generated in Nigeria in the last three years increased by 202 percent. The whole quantity of data generated globally within three years approximately was 5 exabite. In 48 hours, the quantity of data generated globally is equated to the quantity of data that was generated within a period of 5000 years.

“By 2025, because of Internet of Things, it is going to be exponential growth of data. Today the data being generated in Nigeria is in terabite and there must be a legislation in place to ensure that this data being generated is confidentiality, secured and private.

“The 1999 Constitution specifically states that citizens correspondences and communication must be private and confidential and the Section 37 of the constitution, data protection was clearly mentioned except under the cybercrime 2015 where there is a provision of Lawful Intercept where security agencies establish a prima facie case before intercepting certain communication.”

In his address, the National Commissioner of National Data Protection Bureau, Dr. Vincent Olatunji said, “One of the mandates of the bureau by the President is to enact a principal legislation on data protection.

“We are here to give a synopsis from the bill and by midnight the bureau will download the draft bill on its website and that of the ministry.

“The target is to get it passed before December.” The Director General of National Identity Management Commission. Engr. Azeez Aliyu said the process started in 2019 with the National Data Protection Regulation as a subsidiary legislation enacted based on the provision of the NITDA Act 2007.

“Data generation starts at birth and we have very low birth registration, we have. All these data are important for the development of the nation,” he said and pledged continue support by NIMC to ensure the success of the project.

In his goodwill message, the chairman, Sen. Committee on Communication, Sen. Yakubu Oseni said that the Bill is very important and without a legislation on it, the sector would make little impact on the economy.

” It is a sector that has unlimited space to be utilized to grow the economy.

“Enacting the National Data Protection law is in the process, this process commenced in January 2019, where we came up with a Nigeria.”

Earlier in his opening Address, the Coordinator of NID4D Project, Solomon Odole explained that the process of protecting data in Nigeria started in 2019 with the National Data Protection Regulation as a subsidiary legislation enacted based on the provision of the NITDA Act 2007.

To begin accurate data preservation, he said the collation starts at birth and we have very low birth registration.

“All these data are important for the development of the nation.”

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