Saturday, 13 April

Let's join forces to protect personal data privacy – CJ

Chief Justice Gertrude Torkornoo

Chief Justice Gertrude Torkornoo has said the challenges faced in safeguarding the privacy and security of citizens’ data must be addressed head-on while building bridges that foster oversight and accountability.

Highlighting the challenges the African continent faces with data protection, the Chief Justice called for a recognition of the urgency of the issues, the need for collaborative effort to overcome them and a commitment to finding innovative solutions to them.

Justice Gifty Dadzie, delivering the keynote address on behalf of the Chief Justice at the opening of the 2023 Data Protection Africa Summit currently ongoing in Accra, noted: "Building bridges for oversight and accountability requires a collective endeavour and cooperation among all stakeholders which necessitates the collaboration of governments, regulatory bodies, civil society organisations and the private sector". 

“Together, we can create a comprehensive framework that upholds data protection principles and ensures accountability for all stakeholders. By working hand-in-hand, we can bridge the gaps and establish a robust system of oversight and accountability.”

She further noted that building a bridge for oversight accountability is a complex process which entails the recognition and acknowledgement of the myriad challenges to data protection oversight and accountability across Africa, the need to think outside the traditional notions of regulatory enforcement and compliance, among others.

Using Ghana as an example, she stressed that for oversight and accountability of the Data Protection Act to be achieved, all stakeholders must be up and doing.

“These include but cannot be limited to the citizens or individuals whose understanding of the law and vigilance will prompt entities such as the regulator private and public sector institutions, civil society and the judiciary to action,” Justice Dadzie emphasised on behalf of the Chief Justice. 

She stressed the need to ensure the protection of citizens’ personal data beyond the boundaries of Ghana, with the current digital technologies, global communication network and international business practice, which she intimated required building bridges for collaboration at all levels.

“Oversight and accountability beyond boarders and jurisdictions also calls for bridges for collaboration at the regional, continental and international levels.”

She also indicated that it is “pertinent to explore mechanisms that ensure where necessary the safe and free movement of data beyond our boundaries for our sustainable socio-economic development”.

Touching on the progress made in data protection oversight and accountability in African countries including Ghana which has taken significant strides in that regard, Justice Dadzie enumerated that Ghana has enacted “comprehensive legislation, established an independent data protection authority and fostered the culture of transparency and accountability”.

She highlighted that these success stories serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration for others and urged African countries to collaborate to effectively build a stronger foundation for data protection in Africa.

“African countries must come together, transcend borders and share best practices by fostering collaboration and cooperation [so] we can effectively [and] collectively address our challenges and build a stronger foundation for data protection in our continent,” she urged.

The Chief Justice, therefore, called upon all stakeholders to seize the opportunity to build bridges for oversight and accountability in data protection.

“Let us harness the power of collaboration, innovation and cooperation to create a future where the privacy and security of personal data are protected. Together we can pave the way for brighter more accountable digital era in African countries,” she rallied. 

The Data Protection Africa summit, a flagship programme of the Africa Digital Rights Hub’s (ADRH), is being attended by industry players, lawmakers, policy makers among others. 

The 3-day summit which began on Wednesday, 13 December 2023, is themed: ‘Building Bridges for Oversight and Accountability’.

Source: Adiku