Stakeholders in the digital economy sector have thrown their weight behind the establishment of Lagos State Data Protection Commission, charging the government to appoint experts in managing the proposed agency.
The stakeholders made the charge at a public hearing organized by the Lagos State House of Assembly, to enact a law that would ensure the protection of personal information through data to guarantee their safety.
The proposed law titled, ‘A Bill for a Law to promote the protection of personal information processed by public and private bodies, establish minimum requirements for the processing and protection of personal information, establish the data protection commission and for Connected purposes.’
They urged the House to look into the provision for annual registration, saying that in the process of protecting data, ease of doing business should not be hampered.
A stakeholder and data protection expert, Tojuola Yusuf, stated that data protection expertise should be considered in the membership of the Board for the Commission.
Dr (Mrs) Rachael Akangbe said, clause 29 of the bill which deals with destruction of data should be reviewed, while opting for data disposal instead of data destruction.
She noted that appointment of experts with cognate experience as secretary and special adviser is of paramount importance.
She called for proper representation of professionals in the governing board of the data protection commission, adding that registration should be done once and not reviewed yearly as stated in the proposed bill.
In what appears a rallying point, participants suggested that the fines for data protection law defaulters be pegged at N2 million minimum and N10million maximum depending on the degree of breaches.
Barrister Olajide Omosanya, advocated for increment in fine, saying “We need to have a slightly higher fine like N5million or N10 million or we have exemplary damages depending on the breaches.”
While giving the overview of the Bill, the Leader of the House, Hon Sanai Agunbiade said, part of II of the Bill, “seeks to establish Lagos State Data Protection Commission, which has shall among other functions ensure that personal data is collected, held or processed in a manner as not to infringe on the privacy of a data subject.”
In the interpretation of the Bill, a data subject is any person who can be identified, directly or indirectly, by reference to an identification number or one or more factors specific to such person’s physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity.
The Leader added: “In part III, clause 12, the Commission may by notice in writing served on any person such information as is necessary or expedient for the performance of its functions under this Law, in a form that is visible, legible and easy to move.
“In clause 5, “Any person who without reasonable excuse, fails or refuses to comply with a requirement specified in a notice, or who furnishes to the Commission an information known to be false or misleading in a material particular, commits an offence, and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N1,000,000 or to a term not exceeding two years or both.
“In clause 16(1), the Commission may apply to the Court for an order for the expeditious preservation of data, including traffic data, where it has reasonable grounds to believe that such data is vulnerable to loss or modification.
“In clause 20, an authorized officer may enter and search any premises for the purpose of discharging any function or exercising any powers under this Law.
“It however provided a proviso that such authorized person shall not enter or search premises without providing to the owner, a warrant issued by a magistrate.
“Anyone who obstructs an officer to enter for or provide assistance for relevant information.or gives misleading information commits an offence and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding N1,000,000 or term not exceeding two years or both.”
The Deputy Speaker, Hon Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni, who spoke on behalf of the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa said the proposed law would not run contrary to Act of national Assembly, citing that every law made at the federal level could be domesticated in the states.
Eshinlokun-Sanni said one of such laws was the Child Right Act already domesticated in Lagos State, noting that “where we have legislative competence, the laws of the states will not run contrary to national Assembly Act.”
Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman House Committee on Science and Technology, Hon Afinni Suleiman said the advent of social media has enabled information to be shared easily, saying however there are advantages and disadvantages associated with the trend.
He explained that one of the disadvantages of the information shared as to do with fake news and unpermitted use of private data.
Special Adviser on Science and Technology to the Governor, Mr Olatunji Alake who muted the stakeholders forum idea said that professional bodies will be constituted to give more flesh to the bill.