Data Protection in Ghana makes progress

The Ministry of Communication on Thursday held a news briefing on the progress made so far on the implementation of the Data Protection Act (Act 843) which was passed by Parliament in 2012.

Mr Ato Sarpong, Deputy Minister of Communications, said an 11-Member Governing Board for the Data Protection Commission (DPC) was established as required by the Act.

He said the Board is currently being chaired by Justice Samuel Kofi Date-Bah, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court and Chairman of the University of Ghana Council was consequently inaugurated on November 2012.

Other members of the Board include Mr Paarock Vanpercy, Director General of the National Communications Authority, Mr William Tevie, Director-General, National Information Technology Agency, Dr Philomena Nyarko, Government Statistician, Mr John Fummey, Representative of the Bank of Ghana and Mr Joseph Whittal, Representative of Commissioner on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

The rest were Professor Ago K. M. Quaye, a Professor of ICT at the American University in Abuja, Nigeria, Mrs Eleanor Sarpong, an industry representative and Mrs Teki Akuetteh Falconer, Acting Executive Director of the Commission.

Mr Sarpong said Ghana has come a long way embracing technology as an essential part of the lives of people, and considering the large statistics on usage of mobile phone, internet and other smart devices, it was critical to put in place strong security to protect their privacy and personal data from being violated.

The Commission would on Tuesday November 18, officially launch its Data Protection Centre with registration opened to the public.

He said “giving the changing nature of how we share and process personal data, it is imperative that we provide for strong data rights for all of us in order to protect us against abuses by those who violate our privacy”.

He said data is an essential asset that needs protection, because they could be misused when they get into wrong hands to cause either harm, destroy and obstruct peace.

The Deputy Minister explained that the Ministry had over the past few years been instrumental in the passage of key legislations to improve competition, transparency and responsible conduct in the ICT sector, the most recent being the Data Protection Act, (Act 843) to protect the privacy of the individual and personal data by regulating the processing of personal information.

According to him, privacy was one of the important human rights enshrined under Article 18 (2) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, which fortifies human dignity and guarantees other key rights such as freedom of association and to speech

The law, he said provides for the process by which one could obtain, hold, use or disclose personal information and other related issues bordering on the protection of personal data, and also establishes the DPC as an independent body to regulate and implement its provisions.

The Commission has the mandate of implementing and monitoring compliance with the provisions of the Act and determining and setting of the administrative arrangements it considers appropriate for the discharge of its duties.

It would also investigate complaints under the Act and the see to the determination of such complaints on the basis of an investigation in a manner the Commission considers fair, as well as keep and maintain the Data Protection Register.

The Board is made up of a chairperson and representatives from the National Communications Authority, the CHRAJ, Ministry of Communications, Industry Forum, the National Information and Technology Agency, the Bank of Ghana, the Statistical Service, the Executive Director and two other persons nominated by the President, one of whom must be a woman. GNA

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