Monday, October 18, 2021

NCRA HOLDS DATA PROTECTION STAKEHOLDERS CONSULTATIVE MEETING

October 12, 2021

By: James Kamara-Manneh

In a bid to get every citizen personal data protected the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) together with its partners UNDP, World Bank, European Union and the government of Sierra Leone has on the 11th October, 2021, held a consultative meeting at the Brookfields Hotel, in Freetown.

Speaking to the program from the angle of the government, the Minister of Internal Affairs, David Panda-Noah said that the government is gearing towards developing the human capital especially in this digitalize age where the need for to protect human data is at the apex.

“People use our personal data to cause mischief in Sierra Leone; while the data can be used for positive things,” said the Minister.

He added that as data is becoming more valuable so also as skills and opportunity for retrieving different types of personal data involving extremely fast and this greatly exposing individual to an authorize used of their personal information.  Mr. Panda-Noah submits that personal data of individual sensitive and must be protected by government agencies, business institutions, academic institutions, foreign and private partners etc. must all it could for the protection of personal data.

“In Sierra Leone the push for E-governance in the new direction and for cost on cyber security additional platform in public administration has made data protection an essential component of nation building,” said Panda-Noah.

He also called for an enactment of the legislation and regulations are established to protect individuals MDA’s and cooperation’s from data misuse. 

Whereas, National Civil Registration Authority, Commissioner General Mohamed Massaquoi throw light on the topic that there is a need for data protection law in Sierra Leone that has gained momentum among all sectors of Government and Development Partners as well as other foreign residents and Missions whose concern for the privacy and security of their personal data remains strong.

He reiterated the agenda of the President that his government is treating this with serious concern which is why he has made the development of Data Protection Law a priority for his Government.

NCRA DG expressed confidence that critical minds will peruse the draft documents namely Data Protection Bill, Data Protection Policy and Regulation for their valuable inputs.

“You have the challenge to make the draft documents perfect reflecting the interest of our people, other residents and our environment. We have made conscious effort to consult widely Laws and Conventions of other countries and Continent with very good Data Protection legislations in place and now have the responsibility to domesticate it to suit our common purpose” he noted.

He further added that “due to the sensitivity of the personal data and to ensure its privacy and protection as it relates to our work at the NCRA, our Act makes a mandatory provision for the NCRA by special protective measures and in compliance with international law, to protect the data in the Personal Registration Files and Databases of individuals which are kept with the Authority against accidental or unauthorized destruction, loss, unauthorized access, change and disclosure thus showing the imperative need for a data protection Law in Sierra Leone which will govern the protection of personal data of individuals  registered with NCRA and all other Public and Private Institutions. Such a law will set out the rights and obligations of individuals giving data to the Institutions (data subject) and those collecting, processing, using, sharing and storing data”.

Mr. Massaquoi said this law will set out the procedures to be followed in order for the NCRA and other institutions to collect data from individuals; it will inform individuals of their right to consent to give their personal data or information for processing, transmitting etc.

Importantly, the enactment of a Data Protection Law will clearly set out the standards to be maintained in the safekeeping of personal and sensitive data which will increase the guard against the risk of identity theft since personal data that has gained huge international commercial enterprise.  The security safeguards will be established in the Data Protection Law which should be maintained and adhered to by all whether a Data Collector or Data Processor.

He concluded that the envisaged Data Protection Law will seek to ensure the security and privacy of individuals’ personal data and regulate Institutions in the collection, usage, transfer, and disclosure of the same.  The Law will guarantee the provision of access to the data of the individuals with accountability measures to prevent unauthorized and irresponsible processing of personal data covering all those involved in the collection, processing, storage, transfer and any form of manipulation of personal or corporate data; to ensure trust, privacy and integrity. No doubt that the Law will be a critical milestone to guarantee peoples fundamental rights in the digital era.

Other statements were made from representative from the United Nations Development Programme, and from the Ministry of Information. Presentations from the hire Legal team were also part of the program.

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