The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) says the proposed Data Protection Bill, would consolidate on the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) and ensure a strong data privacy regime in the country.
Mr. Olufemi Daniel, Lead NDPR Desk of NITDA said this on Thursday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Established on Jan. 25, 2019, the NDPR was conceptualized by NITDA to ensure the protection of citizens’ data, consent before public use of data, among others.
He explained that the Data Protection Bill was a multi-stakeholders’ proposition for Nigeria to have a national law on data privacy and related issues.
Daniel confirmed that the bill was earlier passed by the 8th National Assembly but President Muhammadu Buhari was not able to assent to it due to some reservations and time constraints.
“The new bill is trying to rework the 2019 version, reaching out to agencies to know what their concerns were.
“One of such reservation is in Section 36 and said you must store all personal data in Nigeria within the territory of Nigeria, while Section 45 said if the data is not stored within the confines of the country, you will be fined N8 billion.
“In NITDA we interact with different levels of businesses, embryonic businesses, and making such a proposition in law is draconian shooting down innovation.
“Exploring conditions of other countries, we realized that with such, it was going to destroy businesses but the new bill is addressing some of those issues.
“The bill will create a specialized institution to handle data privacy protection which is the core difference between it and the NDPR.
“The NDPR had limitations in terms of enforcement and resources, which the national assembly through the bill should address.
“Post COVID-19 economy is a digitally-driven economy and we need a strong data privacy regime to be able to compete with other competitors.
“Considering the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), we need to be prepared so not to be schemed out of the innovative scheme of Africa,’’ Daniel said.
He added that the NDPR had supported the country in its digital economic drive but it was always good to improve, which the bill would ensure.
Daniel further said that the new bill, in its Section 33, acknowledged that irrespective of data location, the controller in Nigeria must have direct accountability, while sanctions have been substantially adjusted.
The NDPR desk lead also said that imposing exorbitant sanctions would make it difficult for laws to be implemented, hence limiting the ability of the government.
“It is based on our economy that the bill is issuing sanctions that people can pay, if not we will make laws that are so nice on paper but without effect on the society.’’
He added that the National Identity Management Commission was the secretariat of the bill, while a validation workshop was recently held for enhanced contributions.
According to him, stakeholders are making sure that all the necessary adjustments are made before the bill can be presented to the 9th National Assembly again.
The officer said the bill would protect the privacy of Nigerians and ensure that Nigeria was at par with digital economy standards globally.
“Currently, many businesses will not invest in a country that does not have data protection law.
“Even when you have a business locally and desire investors to tap economic opportunities from in other countries, you can be blocked because your country will be regarded as a pariah state without data protection law commensurate with global standard.’’
He called on citizens to seize the opportunity to own the bill and be more concerned about addressing the issues around data privacy.
Daniel said that NITDA had trained over 400 Data Protection Officers across the country to ensure that when the bill was assented to, the implementation would be easy.