Dar es Salaam. Communication and Information Technologies minister Dr Faustine Ndungulile reiterated the government’s intention to introduce the Privacy and Data Protection legislation in Tanzania yesterday, giving an impression of the government’s appreciation of the increasingly popular worldwide phenomenon which is motivated by the fact that more and more social and economic activities are taking place online.
While the constitution guarantees the right to privacy and other pieces of legislation appreciate the importance of data protection, Tanzania does not have a comprehensive law that addresses issues of privacy and data protection, two things which are increasingly becoming necessities given how digitization influences every aspect of people’s lives. Talks of Tanzania coming up with a bill on privacy and data protection law have been going on since 2018 but with zero results.
Speaking today, Friday, July 2, 2021, during the launching of a report An Overview of the Digital Ecosystem, Emerging and Applied Technologies on NGOs in Tanzania by Media Convergence, a local digital consultancy firm, Dr Ndungulile expressed his concerns at how Tanzania’s legal framework falls short of protecting people’s personal information, naming the changing of the status quo of one his ministries top priorities.
“We seek to give people interacting with the digital world to be in control of the information that is collected from them,” said the youthful and digital savvy minister. “We want to make people conscious of what data they share, to whom and how they are going to be used.”
Demonstrating how acute the situation is when it comes to data protection in Tanzania, Dr Ndungulile gave an example of a small study his ministry carried out in the Kinondoni district, Dar es Salaam which involved envelopes that pharmacists use when they give their customers the medicine they bought.
During the course of the study, the ministry’s team collected a total of 300 envelopes where 260 of them were found containing personal information. The personal information include medical reports; job application letters; passport applications; information about hotel bills, with the records of the nights spent there, who the companion was, what they ate and what they drank.
“So you can see how much information is out there,” Dr Ndungulile told the participants who had attended the occasion, which included Tanzania’s leading technology and digital stakeholders. “So we are going to come up with a law that addresses that.”
Ndungulile assured followers of Tanzania’s digital development that the preparation of the privacy and data protection law is in the final stages, assuring Tanzanians that the law’s aim is not to muzzle free speech but to protect users of various digital services available in Tanzania.