Stakeholders cautiously welcome data protection bill

What you need to know:

  • The Data Protection Bill is set to be tabled for the first time in Parliament this month, the Information, Communication and Information Technology Minister, Mr Nape Nnauye revealed yesterday.

Dar es Salaam. Stakeholders on Wednesday September 7, cautiously welcomed the decision by the government to think of coming up with the Data Protection Act, saying the law should be friendly to users. 

The Data Protection Bill is set to be tabled for the first time in Parliament this month, the Information, Communication and Information Technology Minister, Mr Nape Nnauye revealed yesterday.

Jamii Forums executive director Maxence Melo welcomed the government’s decision to table the bill, something the public had been waiting for since 2014.

However, he said, the government should go beyond coming up with the law.

“We don’t only need a law, but also a framework that will guarantee people’s privacy and personal data,” Mr Melo told The Citizen.

He expressed expectations that the government will consider international standards in executing the Data Protection Law.

“We need an independent body that will govern collection, processing and dissemination of people’s personal data,” recounted Mr Melo.

Exuding his optimism that the law would be clear on cross-border data, he said, it was his expectation that the law will apply both in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.

“I am optimistic that the government will give room for stakeholders to give out their views on the bill,” concluded Mr Melo.

Human rights activist Fatma Karume said in tandem with data protection, the law should also protect people against the misuse of power.

Expounding her sentiments, she said, during the fifth phase regime, task forces were seen taking citizens’ personal information without following due procedures.

“It is unacceptable for the government to take people’s personal information without a concrete reason,” stressed Ms Karume.

Speaking during the Connect 2 Connect (C2C) Forum whose focus was on Africa's connectivity Agenda, minister Nnauye said the Data Protection Law was meant to guarantee the safety of people’s personal data.

"The cabinet has formally permitted us to continue with the process." he revealed.

He said in the course of the implementation of the Data Protection Law, Tanzania will borrow a leaf from countries that already had a similar law.

In doing so, the country would be able to address challenges associated with the law and thus make it friendly for users.

"As more and more social and economic activities take place online, the importance of privacy and data protection is increasingly recognised. We need to make our data safe," said Mr Nnauye.

Of equal concern is the collection, use and sharing of personal information to third parties without notice or consent of consumers.

Individuals are sometimes exposed to possible abuse and even to harmful consequences as a result of the developments in Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

“We might also look at ethics of internet use to the extent that it is governable,” recounted Minister Nnauye, while assuring stakeholders that the government would come up with a good law.

He added: "Irresponsible behavior must be managed."

Meanwhile, the government said yesterday that it was high time telecommunication stakeholders joined their forces to set a stage for affordable communication services.

Minister Nnauye expressed the need for developing strategies for affordable bandwidth, which still remains a major concern for Africa.

Bandwidth is an important factor when it comes to determining the quality and speed of a network or internet connection that plays a vital role in the realisation of human development.

 “Lower end-user prices provide the best way to stimulate demand,” said Mr Nnauye during the C2C Forum.

Affordable telecommunication services, he expounded, will pave a way for the broadening of digital and financial inclusion.

“Accessibility and affordability of telecommunication services are still a challenge for the majority of Africans. This requires immediate counter action by various stakeholders,” said Mr Nnauye.

Vodacom acting managing director Hilda Bujiku called for periodic policy review to accommodate new changes in the telecom industry as far as digital evolution is concerned.

“This will help in enhancing inclusion for all in the digital transformation journey,” said Ms Bujiku.

She called for the government, telecommunication operators, civil societies and other stakeholders to work together in an effort to bridge the financial and digital inclusion gap.

Helios Towers Tanzania (HTT) managing director Gwakisa Stadi said as new technologies emerge, his company was well positioned to adapt and partner with its customers, including to support the rollout of 5G in Tanzania.

 Mr Stadi expressed the company’s commitment to taking the telecom industry to the next level.

 Since its inception in Tanzania in 2011, the company has invested over $700 million (about Sh1.6 trillion), according to him.

HTT, he explained, had supported its customers through delivery of over 1,500 builds to suit sites throughout the country.

Again, it had provided colocation access to more than 4,000 sites, facilitating more than 9,000 tenancies.

“HTT is committed to facilitating and driving the growth of mobile communication across Africa and the Middle East. We appreciate the huge importance of connectivity and the benefits of this for the people of Tanzania,” noted Mr Stadi.