COVID-19 data collection complies with NDPR, says NITDA

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Citizens and foreigners have no cause to worry over data privacy regarding their medical history and personal data as Nigerian officials collect data, embark on massive contact tracing to tame spread of the novel coronavirus in Africa’s most populous country of over 200 million.

The ongoing collection of COVID-19 data is in compliance with Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) issued by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in January 2019, the government IT clearinghouse has revealed to the Voice of Nigeria (VON) in Abuja.The NDPR is a holistic framework for regulation and protection of personal data of Nigerians throughout the federation.

COVID-19 (the novel Coronavirus) is a pandemic, attracting global authorities with infections recorded in more than 180 countries and several cities or whole countries locked down.

COVID-19 cases have spiked with over 90 recorded infected victims largely travelers from overseas and account for why Nigeria’s international gateway cities, Abuja and Lagos are most affected.

The federal government yesterday locked down Abuja, Lagos and contiguous Abeokuta as government marshaled strategies to halt the disease. More than 10 states out of Nigeria’s 36 states have shut down their borders and lock down their major cities.

 “As part of containment strategies, authorities at our entry ports have devised ingenious means of collecting health information from passengers arriving Nigeria”.

“Their processes include a lot of personal data collection, such as travel history, name, address, phone number, email, destination, etc,” said Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations, NITDA, Mrs Hadiza Umar in a recent statement issued by the agency.

The NITDA further added:

”It is therefore expedient to evaluate the implication of this personal data collection on the rights of data subjects to privacy. The NDPR Article 2.2 provides for the basis of processing personal data.”

“Among the bases are- consent, legitimate interest, contractual agreement, legal, public and vital interest. The data processing being done by public health officials to contain the COVID-19 pandemic is covered under vital and public interest of the data subject and other Nigerians. This position is further reinforced by the provisions of Section 45 of the Nigerian Constitution which limits the right to privacy granted in Section 37.”

NITDA said: “it remains resolutely committed to enforcing its guidelines and in discharging its mandate for the development of IT in Nigeria. It would therefore work with all parties to ensure that the data being collected is processed and stored in compliance with the NDPR.”

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