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Accountability Lab calls for urgent review of digital practices legislation

The Country Director of Accountability Lab Nigeria, Odeh Friday Odey, has called for an urgent and comprehensive review of existing legislation and the formulation of new laws such as the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill.

Odey, who made the call in Abuja on Monday, said the Accountability Lab Nigeria and the Data and Digital Rights Coalition, as part of activities to mark the Data Privacy Week, which is from 21st to 27th January, launched four groundbreaking policy briefs to address Nigeria’s crucial data and digital rights issues.

He said the policy brief sheds light on the growing adoption of unregulated digital technologies and policies in Nigeria, notably Section 24 of the Cybercrimes Act.

“These amplify the threats to freedom of speech, the erosion of data protection and digital privacy rights, and civil liberties” he said.

While acknowledging Nigeria’s National Data Protection Act 2023 as a commendable legal framework for safeguarding personal data, he said with its principles for responsible provisions on individual data rights, the legislation aims to instill trust in the digital ecosystem and align the nation’s data protection practices with global standards.

“There is a need to balance economic growth, as targeted by the National Data Protection Commission (NDPC), with revenue goals of N125 billion and job creation objectives 500,000 jobs under a new data protection strategy and upholding citizens’ data protection and privacy rights,” he said.

According to him, there should be a critical push for implementing ethical security measures to shield personal data from unauthorized access and supplemented by government agencies.

The Country Director further said the briefs underscore the challenges of poor awareness regarding digital rights, online harm prevention, and content moderation; the absence of explicit ethical guidelines; and inadequate oversight mechanisms, not informed by public feedback.

“These gaps create an environment prone to potential misuse and abuse by government security agencies, particularly in counterterrorism efforts, leading to severe consequences such as human rights violations and harassment,” he said.

Earlier, the Accountability Lab Nigeria Programmes and Learning Manager, Ehi Idakwo, highlighted the policies to include combating online censorship, enhancing accountability in surveillance practices strengthening data protection and towards the implementation of data protection measures to safeguard against surveillance abuse in Nigeria

Idakwo said the policies are critical to taking control of data while shaping Nigeria’s safe and inclusive digital future and commemorating Data Privacy Week, a global effort to empower citizens and businesses to respect privacy, safeguard data, and enable trust.

In her remark, the Communications Officer, Anolaba Blessing, said: “This is huge and also critical for us, because we support the global effort to empower citizens and businesses to respect privacy, safeguard data and enable trust- ultimately shaping the future of data.”

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