NITDA issues data protection licence to 11 companies

THE National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has issued 11 licences to data protection companies.

Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa, disclosed this at a one-day Media Executives’ MasterClass on Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019, organised by the agency in Abuja.

Inuwa, who was represented by a director at NITDA, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, said  the agency took the initiative to ensure maximum protection of Nigerians from possible breach and to ensure that Nigeria is not blacklisted from the rest of the world in doing genuine business.

He stated that out of the 11 licensees, six had started recruiting staff  for the commencement of work in line with  government policy of building capacity and  job creation.

Inuwa said additional 16 licences had been approved by the agency and would soon be made public.

He said the agency recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the European Union (EU) Data Protection Council, making Nigeria the first African nation to take such a step.

‘‘NITDA is embarking on data protection to make sure that our country is not blacklisted. Eleven companies have been licensed for this purpose and additional 16 licences have been approved.

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‘‘Nigeria recently signed a MoU recently with the EU Data Protection Council  to give it international outlook. Data is our oil and by the next 10 years, everything about oil will be obsolete.

‘‘For this reason, NITDA is putting in place an administrative Redress Panel  to handle all issues that will arise from the practitioner going forward. NITDA has also set up a legal team to take up any legal issue that may arise.

“We are also going to have  a National Advisory Council  to offer advice from time to time where necessary. The data protection advocacy is going to be a continuous thing. All we want to do is to ensure all we do in Nigeria is in line with international best practices,” he said.

NITDA Desk Officer, Mr. Olufemi Daniel, while speaking earlier, said a lot of data controllers and hosts had been found guilty of breaching peoples’ right.

According to him, this has made it imperative for Nigerians to put their foot down to protect themselves from possible data breach, considering its  damaging effects.

He said it was for this reason that NITDA decided to investigate Truecaller, banks and telecom service providers to ensure  total compliance with extant laws.

He said though the contemporary IT Policy was obsolete, NITDA is taking a proactive step to bring in a new pushing for a new IT policy.

This, it is doing, by pushing for a new policy and establishment of a data protection commission.

‘‘In a bid to ensure adequate data protection in Nigeria, NITDA has studied 187 countries. What is unique about Nigeria is how we implement our policy. We are driving another law for the establishment of Data Protection Commission. We expect  every data controller to file annual data control audit. It is time for data security and it is time we begin talks about data economy,’’ he added.

A data Protection Consultant, Tokunbo Smith, said the National Data Protection Regulation  is expected to exceed the 300,000 job target because of the ripple effects it would have from all the licensees and companies that would operate under the policy.

He said the MasterClass is expected to expose media practitioners to the rudiments and basic skills needed in the reportage of  data protection.

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