Ms Angela Ng’ang’a, Microsoft’s Corporate Affairs Lead for East and South Africa, said less than 10 African countries have such a Data Protection Law, while a few other countries were still having discussions to enact similar laws.
Morocco, Mauritius, and Angola have laws to protect personal information.
Ms Ng’ang’a said the effort by the Data Protection Commission (DPC) to also educate stakeholders to sensitise them about the law before enforcement of the provisions was highly commendable.
Ghana formulated the Data Protection Act, 2012 (Act 843) to safeguard personal information.
The law provides for the process by which one could obtain, hold, use or disclose personal data while the Data Protection Commission has been established as an independent body to regulate and implement its provisions.
The functions of the DPC also include the investigation and determination of complaints under the Act, the keeping and the maintenance of the Data Protection Register as well as creating awareness on data protection.
Speaking to the GNA at the closing of a Data Protection Conference hosted by the Data Protection Commission in Accra, Ms Ng’ang’a however said since the law could not operate in isolation, there was the urgent need to develop other relevant articles to guide the implementation of the data protection law and to make it more effective.
She particularly called for the enactment of child online protection law that would protect the use of the internet by children, with the various stakeholders leading the efforts.
She said Ghana should also tighten cybercrime laws to safeguard users of the internet.
The two-day conference on the theme: “Creating the Right Balance between the Need for Information and Data Protection”, was attended by more than 600 stakeholders comprising data controllers and processors from Ghana and abroad.
Mrs Teki Akuetteh Falconer, the Executive Director of Ghana’s Data Protection Commission, said the views expressed by the various stakeholders indicated that, “people were not aware of what was happening with technology and personal data”.
She said many people, including data controllers and data processors, were also not aware of the implications of their actions in respect of handling personal information, adding that the Commission would continue to engage more people with its awareness creation efforts.
Mrs Falconer said while the DPC would design a broader guideline on the implementation of the data protection law for several sectors such as Health, Communications and Media, it would also allow other data controllers to develop their internal guidelines based on the “organisation’s points of view”.
Mr Bright Gameli Mawutor, a cyber security engineer and lead resource person at the conference, said that cybercrime was a major issue in Ghana that needed serious measures to address them.
“Cybercrime is where money is now, so many criminals are using it, but my advice is that people should not put too much information about themselves on social media”.
He said it was very possible for people to avoid internet hackers; “All they should do is to frequently clear the cookies on their browsers, at least, every two weeks.
A cookie is a small text file downloaded onto your computer by a website when you go on line and they provide information to the website on your login history. They can also be used to track your online activities.
He also advised people to refrain from geo-tagging which informs people of their movement or where they are every time.