Tanzania launches commission to oversee personal data protection

Samia commission pic
President Samia Suluhu Hassan places her hand on an iPad screen to officially launch the Personal Data Protection Commission in Dar es Salaam on April 3, 2024. PHOTO | STATE HOUSE

What you need to know:

  • The government officially launched the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) on Wednesday, signalling a crucial step towards addressing long-standing concerns regarding data privacy

Dar es Salaam. The government officially launched the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) on Wednesday, signalling a crucial step towards addressing long-standing concerns regarding data privacy.

Inaugurating the commission, President Samia Suluhu Hassan highlighted the significance of the move for the country’s economy through the protection of citizens’ personal information, thus alleviating fears surrounding unauthorised access and misuse.

She emphasised the necessity of stringent control over the collection, storage, and utilisation of personal data, citing numerous instances of data breaches and privacy violations.

In explaining instances of malicious acts committed by individuals and unscrupulous groups breaching the systems of institutions collecting personal information, President Hassan noted that such acts were caused by weak control over personal information in various institutions.

“The PDPC should ensure that all public and private institutions are registered and comply with the personal data protection law before or by December of this year,” she directed.

Her directives resonated with a proactive stance towards reinforcing data protection laws and fostering a culture of compliance among both public and private institutions.

President Hassan mandated the PDPC to ensure that all entities, regardless of their sector, adhere to the Personal Data Protection Law by registering before the end of the year.

The directive, experts said, emphasised her government’s commitment to establishing a robust regulatory framework that encompasses all stakeholders involved in data collection and processing.

The registration requirement not only enhances accountability but also fosters transparency in data management practices, some of the attendees whispered.

Moreover, the President called for the office of the prime minister to ensure that there’s harmonisation of government ICT systems before the end of this year, highlighting a concerted effort to streamline digital infrastructure to foster an inclusive digital economy.

With the availability of a policy and legal framework for protecting personal information, she ordered, “As I always say, our ICT systems should be interoperable. By December this year, all government systems should be harmonised.”

By ensuring interoperability among various government systems, the Minister of Information, Communications, and Information Technology, Mr Nape Nnauye, said Tanzania aimed to optimise efficiency and facilitate seamless data exchange, thereby creating an enabling environment for businesses and investors.

President Hassan’s emphasis on the importance of data protection in building trust among users of digital services, a digital investor, Mr Mvomero Mkude, said, underscored the intertwined relationship between data privacy and economic growth.

“What the president insisted on is simply an addition to her demand for a better environment for investors. With a great digital infrastructure and a data protection commission, we can be sure of more digital investments as a country,” he told The Citizen in the corridors of the event.

In an era where information has emerged as a valuable asset, prioritising data privacy, he said, is indispensable for attracting both domestic and foreign investment.

The establishment of the PDPC not only safeguards citizens’ rights but also bolsters investor confidence, laying a foundation for sustainable economic development, he believed.

Mr Nnauye echoed the sentiment, highlighting the PDPC’s pivotal role in upholding principles of democracy, good governance, and the rule of law.