Comply with data protection laws by May 25, 2018 or lose partners

Vincent Sowah Odotei,Deputy Minister Designate of Communication

Vincent Sowah Odotei,Deputy Minister Designate of Communication

Data controllers across the country risk severing their relationship with international partners if they fail to comply with data protection laws by May 25 this year.

According to the Executive Director of the Data Protection Commission (DPC), Ms. Patricia Poku, a new European Union (EU) directive enjoins organisations that work along data protection lines to strictly ensure compliance by the said date.

“The whole of Europe will comply to this order and this means that organisations in the country that have contracts or partnership with international companies especially in Europe cannot continue such work relationship if you are not data protection compliant by May 25th,” she told the Ghanaian Times in an interview.

It was on the sidelines of a breakfast meeting in Accra yesterday with Chief Executive Officers in the public and private sectors to mark this year’s Data Protection Day.

The day, celebrated annually, is to raise awareness among businesses as well as users on the importance of protecting the privacy of personal information while ensuring data protection best practices.

The meeting was also to award certificates to the first batch of 25 trained data protection supervisors to oversee data protection compliance in their respective institutions.

Ms. Poku said, the Commission was determined to enforce the directive in the country stressing that, “the rights of individuals must be protected and all of us expect organisations to secure our data and do things properly so, we will enforce it.”

Though she indicated an upscale in the number of companies that have registered with the Commission during the last year, Ms. Poku said “it still falls below average considering the number of entities that exist in the country.”

“As of now, we have just about 1000 companies registered with the right certification from the DPC and that is not good enough. It is either the Directors of the institutions have ignored their responsibility or do not understand that it is their statutory obligation to do so and that is why we keep rehashing the importance of this exercise.”

Ms. Poku asked companies that manage data in any form to take steps to register with the Commission to receive the requisite training needed to efficiently handle data within their reach.

“It is your statutory obligation to register else all your operations are illegitimate. We need to easily identify you within our system so we can help the company do the needed risk assessment, know what you are to have in your system and what to dispose off,” she advised.

Ms. Poku was however quick to add that the Commission will not renege in imposing sanctions including prosecution to defaulters.

“Our intention is not to collapse their business but to ensure that they attain the right status both locally and internationally to improve customer confidence, get rid of wastages and ensure effective use if information management systems to increase productivity,” she said.

A Deputy Minister of Communications, Vincent Odotei Sowah underscored the importance of data protection in enhancing the country’s technological drive.

“In most of our transactions today especially within the cyber space, some level of information is required to access services and it is important that we pay attention to how such data is managed because people are increasingly becoming concerned about how their information is used,” he said.

Mr. Sowah observed that data protection compliance would soon become a requirement to access government contracts among other services adding that a team would be set up to enforce compliance across the country.

The Chairperson of the DPC, Mrs. Justice Helena Inkumsah-Abban, said the Commission would continue to engage with stakeholders to ensure that “in the area of data protection too, Ghana becomes the gateway for Africa.”

She asked companies to nominate personnel to undergo training with the Commission to better equip them to handle data effectively.unications speaking at the meeting.

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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