CHRR, Digital Rights Coalition urge govt to expedite Data Protection Bill 2021

Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and the Digital Rights Coalition have asked the Malawi Government to expedite the debate and enactment of the Data Protection Bill 2021 into law.

CHRR and the coalition made the statement on Saturday when Malawi joined the world in commemorating Data Privacy Day. Data Privacy Day is celebrated on January 28 each year to commemorate Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty on data protection signed in 1981, now referred to as Convention 108+.

Kaiyatsa –Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

The day allows the global community to reflect on and raise awareness about “the importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data, and maintaining trust.”

However, CHRR and Digital Rights Coalition say there are a number of gaps and weaknesses in Malawi’s policy and legal frameworks.

“CHRR and the Digital Rights Coalition recognise the threat to the right to privacy as guaranteed under section 21 of the Malawi Constitution. We commend the government of Malawi for taking interest and steps in coming up with the Data Protection Bill 2021,” read part of the statement CHRR Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa co-signed with Digital Rights Coalition National Coordinator Dennis Mwafulirwa.

“We, therefore, call on the government to expedite the process to have this important Bill brought before parliament for debate and passed into law. Additionally, we invite the government to take steps to sign and ratify the African Union Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection, an essential regional instrument for data privacy,” they added.

The two institutions further urged the government as well as private agencies to amend the Electronic Transaction and Cybersecurity Act, 2016, to align it with the provisions of the Constitution as well as regional and international conventions and best practices that promote data privacy and protection.

They also asked the authorities to decentralise and localise complaint redress mechanism, conduct meaningful civic education on data privacy and protection, develop digital rights law and policy framework and clearly communicate data privacy policies, commitments and guidelines.

“We realise the importance of human rights promotion and protection by public and private agencies when they collect, transfer and use personal data to be of fundamental importance to sustained development. CHRR and the Digital Rights Coalition believe that with the right attitude, practice and policy frameworks Data Privacy and protection can be promoted and protected in Malawi,” they concluded.

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