The Chairperson of the Information Regulator of South Africa, Pansy Tlakula is advocating for the protection of data of citizens.
Pansy Tlakula argues that data protection should be regarded as a human rights issue rather than an Information Technology (IT) one.
According to her, although technology had improved the efficiency of elections across the continent, the data protection laws of some countries are weak thereby giving unauthorized and unlawful access to politicians during electioneering periods.
Madam Pansy was speaking at the official opening of West Africa Media Excellence Conference and Awards as the keynote speaker.
“We have few countries on the continent who have adopted the data protection law. These laws on the continent are weak and out-dated. Some of them create weak regulation authority that do not help to enforce the power. Data protection is not an IT issue but rather a human right issue. So we must begin to look at it with that lens because we are beginning to have instances where the right to privacy has been infringed because data has been acquired unlawfully to influence an electoral process .”
Africa’s data protection regime
Countries across Africa are at varying points on their journeys towards enacting Data Protection and Privacy laws.
Less than 15 out of 54 countries in the region have passed a Data Protection Law.
Experts have said that Africa has the opportunity to harness the digital economy as a driver of growth and innovation through data protection.
They have also warned that the continent risks running into economic isolation and stagnation if it fails to protect the data of individuals.
The right approach to data privacy is said to be critical to building trust in new technologies and systems however, there is a need to accelerate the progress being made.
As a result, many have called for data privacy rules to give rights to individuals and establish independent data protection authorities that can deal with complaints and enforcement.