President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has directed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), which have not registered with the Data Protection Commission (DPC), to do so, to promote and restore trust in the processing of personal data in the country.
The President said; “In order to effect the necessary change for our overall development, all state and public institutions must be proactive in respecting the fundamental laws of the country.”
The Data Protection Act, 2012 (Act 843) which established the DPC, sets out the rules and principles governing the collection, use, disclosure and care for personal data or information by a data controller or processor.
President Akufo-Addo said these in a speech read on his behalf by Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Professor Frimpong-Boateng, at the opening of the 2017 Data Protection conference, in Accra yesterday.
The two-day conference organised by the DPC, on the theme “Safeguarding Fundamental Rights through Data Protection”, is being attended by experts and stakeholders worldwide.
It would highlight the importance of personal data protection, explore avenues to address regulatory challenges associated with data protection compliance and also host the African Regional Dialogue on data protection.
The President indicated that he was informed that not all MDAs had registered, though required by the Data Protection Act, 2012 (Act 843), adding that the country was challenged by the ability to properly plan and target resources at those who really needed them as a result of lack of accurate data on the needs of people.
He said accurate national identification and addressing system, which was important to socio-economic development, could not be attained without building integrity and trust in the collection and use of personal information.
The President noted that the data protection agenda would help unlock new opportunities that give access to new revenue streams and markets, by opening the country for foreign investments and opportunities.
The Minister for Communication, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, elaborated the link between data protection and trade in the digital economy, saying, information sufficiency could create negative market effects by reducing consumer confidence.
However, she stated that an overly stringent protection could unduly restrict businesses with adverse economic consequences and stressed the need for balance to be created to mutual benefits.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said there were both opportunities and threats in the digital world, and that internationally compatible data protection and cyber security regimes were needed to create an enabling environment for all stakeholders involved to build trust online.
Mrs Teki Akuetteh Falconer, Executive Director of the DPC, said the commission was committed to its mandate and while urging data controllers and processors to comply with the act, called on people whose rights were violated to report.
Various speakers, including Prof. Joseph Cannataci, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Privacy, who addressed the conference via the internet, stressed the need for Ghana to tactically address the issue of security and data protection.
By Jonathan Donkor