Data Protection Commissioner, Patricia Edusei-Poku (middle), flanked by Rita Tsegah and Roland Gyan from Ecobank
Data Protection Commissioner, Patricia Edusei-Poku (middle), flanked by Rita Tsegah and Roland Gyan from Ecobank

Ghana’s Commissioner of Data Protection, Patricia Edusei-Poku has warned that companies which refuse to register with the Ghana Data Protection Commission risk losing their businesses licenses.

She told Adom News the Commission has asked all license issuing organizations and regulators to not to renew the license of any company that does not present a Data Protection Certificate as part of their registration requirement.

“The same applies to any new businesses – they would need to first register with the Commission and obtain a Data Protection Certificate before they can be registered to operate in Ghana,” she said.

Patricia Edusei-Poku was speaking to Adom News at the press launch of the maiden Africa Data Protection and Privacy Conference (ADPPC) slated for June 26, 2019 in Accra.

The conference will bring together cybersecurity and ICT industry stakeholders from across Africa and the world to brainstorm on how to develop effective data protection systems for African countries.

It would focus on how to establish and run ethical data collection, storage, retrieval, usage and even disposal systems, as well as capacity building for staff in the area of data protection across the entire spectrum of society – banking, health, education, aviation, hospitality and other sectors.

The Commissioner noted that in spite of the passage of the Data Protection Act and a directive by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for all public and private organizations to register with the Data Protection Commission, lots of organizations have turned a deaf ear on it.

She said the Commission is no more going to countenance the deliberate disregard for the law, because that disturbing disregard allows organizations to mishandle the data of Ghanaians in their possession and thereby disrespect the actual owners of the data.

Patricia Adusei-Poku argued that state institutions and private companies make profit from the data of individuals in their possession and yet those organizations disrespect the customers and sometimes even mishandle the data.

She said it is time for organizations which benefit from the citizens’ data in the possession to start respecting the citizens, adding that the conference will ensure that citizens of African countries got the same level of respect and compensation when their date is abused by organizations as those in developed countries get.

The Commissioner used the opportunity to call on Ghanaians to demand to know from organizations which collect their data, how they are protecting that data and proof of assurance of protection.

“If any organization or leader is unable to show proof of a clear data protection or privacy policy, that organization or leader is a failure and should not be trusted by the public,” she said.

Patricia Edusei-Poku also advised Ghanaians to be vigilante in the way they handle their own personal data, which putting it online, giving it to an organization or even in private conversations with friends, family and loved one.

“Be careful who is around you and could have access to your personal information and be sure whatever information you put on social media does not make you vulnerable to fraudsters and anti-social characters,” she warned.

Meanwhile, she said the Commission has a free walk in service for persons which wish to get free lessons on effective personal data protection.

“You can call us and book a date when you walk into our office and we take you through very important tips on how to protect yourself,” she said.

The press launch was sponsored by Ecobank Ghana, and the Head of Compliance at Ecobank, Roland Gyan told Adom News they take data protection seriously so they have registered with the data protection agencies in all the 36 countries they operate in Africa and even other parts of the world.

He urged other companies to do same because it is a reflection of how much organizations value their stakeholders beyond just the talk.

In a speech read on his behalf, Chief Financial Officer at Ecobank Ghana, Eddy Botwe noted that an UNCTAD Report shows 107 countries, of which 66 were developing countries, have legislations on data protection.

Out of the 66, Africa has less than 40 per cent adoption rate, which is not encouraging.

Eddy Botwe is hopeful that the conference will go a long way to improve regional action and find new and inclusive ways of protecting individual privacy.

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