Minister of Communications Dr. Edward Omane Boamah has cautioned persons and organisations that mishandle and misuse people’s personal data and information to desist, or face the full rigours of the Data Protection Law 2012 (Act 843).
“Today, computers and mobile applications all seek to promote efficient service, higher productivity, and data convenience by reducing the gap in both space and time -- bringing the world closer.
“Unfortunately, information and communication technologies are also being misused by antisocial elements in furtherance of their illegal and nefarious activities. To this set of people, I say their days are numbered if they do not change...” Dr. Omane Boamah stated at the 2016 Data Protection Conference held in Accra last week.
The event was organised by the Data Protection Commission under the theme ‘Creating the Right Balance between the Need for Information and Data Protection’.
The data protection act gives meaning to Article 18 (2) of the 1992 constitution, with the underlying notion being the codification of data protection in the ever-growing need to process and keep personal data up to date.
The act guarantees specific rights and obligations in the processing of one’s information so as to protect the sacred sphere of personal life and dignity in the information age.
Citing research findings, the minister said an individual with access to a mobile device has vastly more processing power than those who owned the most advanced industrial machines 30 years ago; and through such devices, such a person can spread and share information about others instantly and irrevocably -- sometimes with dire consequences.
It is estimated also that the worldwide number of Internet users from 2000 to 2015 is 3.17 billion: up from 2.15 billion in 2014.
The National Communications Authority (NCA) estimates that as at October 2015 mobile voice and data penetration rates reached 123.95 percent and 64.39 percent respectively. This demonstrates that a significant number of Ghanaians have access to mobile phones and interact over the Internet using these devices.
The minister urged the Data Protection Commission to ensure that its independence is not compromised in the discharge of its duties.
In an address delivered on her behalf, the Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood also maintained that data protection is a matter of paramount importance; its violation is “an affront to justice” and must be accorded high priority.
She also urged all public agencies, organisations and persons operating in activities that require interaction with personal information to comply with the data protection laws of Ghana.
Teki Akuettey Falconer, Executive Director, Data Protection Commission, also called on all unregistered data controllers to register “as soon as possible”, as the Commission plans on nationwide enforcement actions against such defaulters.
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