Lawyer writes NUC, wants data protection in law studies curriculum to strengthen digital economy

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By Joy Amaka Onweani and Marozoka Amaka Oruame

Olumide Babalola, Managing Partner at Olumide Babalola LP and Co-Founder, Digital Rights Lawyers Initiative, has asked the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) to introduce Data Protection Law into the law faculties curriculum.

Reinforcing digital economy

The digital rights lawyer, who leads a Nigerian network of highly skilled lawyers seeking to promote digital rights of all persons, and creating awareness of digital rights and responsibilities, has written the NUC suggesting that the regulatory body for academic programmes in tertiary institutions should introduce data protection law as a course of study to reinforce government’s digital economy drive.

“The Federal Government’s proposed digital economy drive could do with more lawyers who understand data protection especially when taught from their undergraduate days,” the lawyer argues in his letter seen by IT Edge News.

Olumide Babalola LP is also a Data Protection Compliance Organisation (DPCO).

A DPCO is licensed by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) for the purpose of training, auditing, consulting and rendering services aimed at ensuring compliance with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR).

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Below is the full letter, dated July 15, 2021, addressed to the Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Ayo Banjo.

Dear Sir,

INTRODUCTION OF DATA PROTECTION INTO THE LAW FACULTIES’ CURRICULUM

I am Olumide Babalola, a lawyer, privacy professional and author of Casebook on Data Protection – modestly reputed as Nigeria’s only law textbook on data protection.

Upon Nigeria’s ratification of the ECOWAS Supplementary Act on Personal Data Protection in 2010 and particularly the release of Nigeria Data Protection Regulation in January 2019, data protection effectively became one of the practices areas for legal practitioners in Nigeria (albeit the practice area is 51 years old in Europe having surfaced in the Hessen State of Germany in 1970).

It is worthy of note that, data protection is now even studied as a stand-alone course in many universities around the world. (See the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) Privacy and Data Protection in Academic: A Global Guide to Curricula’).

It is my respectful suggestion that, in our universities, students could be introduced to data protection under human rights (it is an offshoot of fundamental right to privacy) or ICT law (the increased utility of technology led to emergence of the first modern data protection law in the 70s.) or intellectual property (personal data is viewed as an intangible property in some jurisdictions).

Moreso, the Federal Government’s proposed digital economy drive could do with more lawyers who understand data protection especially when taught from their undergraduate days.

From the foregoing, I respectfully urge your Commission to look into this and further align our universities with international standards in this regard.

I thank you for your audience.


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