Personal data protection still low, new report says

Data. A woman takes a photo using a smartphone. With technological advancemens, collecting data has become easier but harder to protect. PHOTO / EDGAR R. BATTE

What you need to know:

Data is the new gold as it aids in decision making in both public and private sectors. Data is used to drive innovation, improve service delivery, and create new business opportunities. 
However, it is also important to ensure that this data is protected and individual privacy is respected.

Uganda risks losing important data to unauthorised users because most of the government’s data protection officers are neither experienced nor certified.
This was part of the findings from the data protection needs assessment report undertaken the Ministry of ICT.
The report conducted in November 2022 showed that majority of the data protection officers had not encountered any data protection breaches while they worked. 
This according to sector players leaves a question of how there can be data protection officers who can not identify the actual problems.
These were part of the proceedings of the second Data Protection conference, part of the activities to mark the International Data Privacy Day.
Speaking at the event, Mr Godfrey Kabbyanga, the State Minister for ICT and National Guidance said data privacy is critical in Uganda’s digital age, the increasing use of technology in all aspects of life has led to a greater need for the protection of personal information. 
Mr Kabbyanga said there are so many people who want to steal data. Personal data is increasingly conceived as a tradable asset. Markets for personal information are emerging, requiring more stringent measures to protect personal data.
“During Covid-19, some investors wanted to give assistance to Ugandans, so they wanted telephone numbers of the poor in one of the regions and the regulator, Uganda Communications Commission gave the investor permission to get that data from one of the telecom companies,”Mr Kabbyanga said.
However, instead of getting data from the telecom companies, they went to the mast and collected a lot of data, which is not even what they wanted. Government swung into action and was able to retrieve the data from them, sieved it and gave the investor only what his company had asked for.
Mr Hatwib Mugasa, the executive director, NITA – Uganda, said the report provides valuable insights into the current state of data protection and privacy training in our country and highlights the areas where additional resources are needed. 
He said data protection officers are at the focal point of contact on data protection matters in their organisations. Therefore, training them enables them to transfer the knowledge to their organisations thereby increasing the level of awareness and compliance.