Paradigm Initiative (PIN) in collaboration with CITAD recently organized a Data Protection and Digital Identity stakeholder engagement session, bringing together different stakeholder groups within Kano to discuss the issue of digital identity in Nigeria. An event proudly supported by the Omidyar Network. Digital Identity has become a global phenomenon within this digital age and Nigeria is not left out.
There have been many issues raised since the establishment of NIMC and the NIN process. These issues surround privacy, data protection, consent, access, the purpose of it, the necessity, and more. Thus necessitating an awareness campaign for a better understanding of these policies by the citizens on the protection of their digital rights, which are their fundamental human rights. The right to access, use, create and publish digital materials as well as the use of digital devices falls within the context of freedom of expression and privacy.
The interactive engagement allowed the government to clarify these issues, allowing participants to share their challenges in a back and forth means to derive solutions.
‘Gbenga Sesan, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative who chaired the event with the guest of honor, GM legal and regulatory services Hadiza Ali Dagabana who represented NIMC, asked a crucial question to the GM: Why should Nigerians get NIN?, she responded “ The NIN and Birth certificate are a foundation identity. Nigerians have been battling with identification issues which will be made easy with a central digital registry of all Nigerians. NIN removes the requirement for building agency biometric infrastructure to make it centralized “
Other stakeholders present wanted to know, What is NIMC doing to accelerate the data protection Law as well as secure the information of Nigerians? She answered “NIMC has secured its infrastructure and personnel. Even the Director general doesn’t have access to the database” Access is controlled, monitored, and evaluated. NIMC has been working on a data protection Bill for the past 7years and a draft has been sent to the national assembly. A copy of the draft is on the NIMC website. The review process will be concluded by next month.
To ensure the house of assembly passes this bill, we carry along with our different committees and people supervising, we make sure that these committees are part of the discussion. We have developed guidelines of how our CSOs monitor and give feedback.” Openness to information as well as Trust is needed for the policies that are pushed to work.
This exercise was carried out by Paradigm Initiative in Uyo, Kano, and eventually in Lagos. There has also been a similar engagement online on zoom. Khadijah El-Usman of PIN noted the attempt of PIN to educate as many Africans as possible on their digital rights.