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NITDA reassures Nigerians of data protection, sets deadline for filing data audit reports



The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has said that it will redouble efforts to ensure data protection as that has become a pivot for the continued growth of the digital economy.

Director General/CEO of NITDA, Kashifu Abdullahi, who gave the assurance at the national privacy week 2021 virtual press conference, said the agency’s strategy is to create a workable, credible implementation process that would assist the National Assembly in its desire to pass a Data Protection Bill.

Abdullahi, however, said that while NITDA awaits the passage of the data protection bill, it will continue to lay necessary structures to deepen data protection implementation in Nigeria.

According to him, the measures include development of sectoral implementation toolkits to get sector stakeholders to agree on a single, workable template for compliance in their sector.

He also listed standardisation of NDPR courses and trainings to increase awareness and develop specialist that will standardize and accredit data protection and information security training and certification.

His words: “Our journey to Data Protection started quite long before EU GDPR. In 2013, NITDA issued Data Protection Guideline with the objective of providing basic law to guide the use of data in the digital space. However, we carved out our niche in Data Protection Regulation when the EU GDPR was issued in 2016, the then Director General of NITDA, and the current Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, issued the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) on January 25, 2019.

“The NDPR is designed to meet the Data Protection global best practice, but our license regime approach, which is unique and innovative, has made it a point of reference in Africa and beyond. We are going to rejig our enforcement mechanism to improve compliance. COVID-19 slowed down our enforcement vision in 2020 but we are going to redouble our efforts in this direction, as data protection has become a pivot for the continued growth of the digital economy.

“Like every other journey to success, NDPR implementation faces some challenges. But we are confident that we will overcome them and succeed at the end.”

The Director-General further stated that companies which failed to file their data audit report by March 15, 2021 risk being sanctioned.

According to the NITDA boss, the defaulting companies will be made to pay financial penalties and or be blacklisted from public projects.

“Compliance remain critical to achieving data integrity in terms of privacy and security and NITDA remains committed to achieving the terms of the NDPR 2019 across all spectrum of  industries in Nigeria,” he said.