Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, says “lawful intercept” allows President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime to breach the personal data of Nigerians for security reasons.
According to Mr Pantami, before the NDPR of 2019, the Cybercrimes Act of 2015 provides for “lawful intercept,’’ only effected when a security institution establishes a prima facie case of a crime.
“Otherwise, the confidentiality of citizens’ communications and correspondences were guaranteed,’’ Mr Pantami added.
The minister’s spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, adding that Mr Pantami said this while addressing the world forum of ministers in London.
This year’s ministers’ Future Tech Forum is titled, ‘The Future of Trust in Data as a Force for Good’.
He disclosed that the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) 2019 was in full effect to build trust between the government and the governed, with non-compliance attracting stiff penalties.
“Nigeria already has some policies in place to ensure the protection of citizens’ data and to also build trust between government and citizens. There is also a subsidiary legislation called the guidelines for processing personal data, which gives impetus to the NDPR and assurance of confidentiality to citizens,” Mr Pantami added.
He also explained that protecting citizens’ data in Nigeria is not just secondary legislation but a constitutional requirement.
“Government also invested in creating awareness among the citizenry to enable understanding of both the regulation and government’s willingness to adhere to the dictates of law regarding confidentiality,” he stressed.
The minister disclosed that Mr Buhari’s regime had engaged the services of Data Protection Compliance officers (DPCOs) to create awareness further.
The DPCOs, he said, were also to serve as middlemen between the government and aggrieved citizens in addressing breaches where they may occur.
Mr Pantami also noted that data collection played a significant role in aiding the government’s proactiveness in curtailing and managing the COVID-19 challenge in Nigeria.