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Data Protection: Indignation as FG abandons draft bill, seeks ‘consultants’ for fresh process

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The federal government has abandoned the data protection bill which it put together in a capital-intensive process that was concluded in 2020.

Despite scarce public funds invested in it and wide applause it garnered as meeting global standards, the bill was abandoned in a controversial manner that cybersecurity experts have raised concerns over.

The government spent funds in 2020 to gather stakeholders across the country to draft a document it planned to pass to the National Assembly that would serve as a precursor to legislation protecting the sensitive data of Nigerians.

The goverment is now planning to spend millions of naira to engage a ‘consultant’ to draft a new document.

The Nigerian government, through the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), is seeking credit from the World Bank and others to engage the said consultants even as experts have questioned the rationale behind involving the global outfits in ”matters of internal security”.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that a draft data protection bill compiled by stakeholders in the Nigerian cybersecurity ecosystem who were consulted by the NIMC and the Ministry of Justice is currently available at the justice ministry awaiting passage to the Federal Executive Council before being sent to the parliament.

But experts are worried that the process appears to have been truncated with this new development.

Data protection is a constitutional right guaranteed under section 37 of the Nigerian constitution.

The Nigerian Data Protection Regulation, 2019 (NDPR) is the main data protection regulation in Nigeria. The NDPR was issued by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

The NDPR provides for the rights of data subjects, the obligations of data controllers and data processors, transfer of data to a foreign territory amongst others.

Controversial credit application

On Friday, industry experts were stunned when they read a procurement advert (expression of interest) placed by the NIMC in selected dailies seeking to engage experts to draft a new document despite the existing one

The experts are expected to be paid from a credit the federal government is applying for from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

“The Federal Government of Nigeria has applied for a credit from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD) & European Investment Bank (EIB) and intends to apply part of the proceeds to increase the number of persons with a National ID number, which would be issued by a robust and inclusive foundational ID system to facilitate improved access to public services. The governance arrangements for project implementation consist of three structures: (a) Project Ecosystem Steering Committee (PESC); (b) Ecosystem Coordination Strategic Unit (ECSU) situated within the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy; and (c) the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) situated within the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

“The Federal Government of Nigeria seeks to hire the services of a consulting firm to provide legal advice to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMCDE) in order to help develop and implement the legal framework, institutional and regulatory capacity for data protection, cybersecurity and ID systems which gives effect to the reforms contemplated by the Nigeria ID4D Project.”

Experts are concerned that the federal government said in the tender, the consulting firm, when engaged, will “draft a comprehensive data protection legislation”.

TEXEM

It will be expected to draft “subsidiary legislations (regulations, rules and/or guidelines) to support the operationalisation of primary legislation”.

The consultant will also draft “amendments to existing laws and regulations, including the National Identity Management Commission, National Population Commission legislations, and Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) legislation to harmonise the overall approach to data protection, cybersecurity and cybercrimes in Nigeria and ensure the ID system operates in an inclusive, nondiscriminatory, and transparent manner.”

Interested firms are expected to submit their bids by November 26 to the Deputy Director/Head of Procurement, NIMC.

Previous process

Between July and August, 2020, an interagency committee was set up by the federal government to craft a draft data protection bill that would be considered by FEC and then forwarded to the National Assembly for passage.

It was funded as it worked round the clock to submit the document experts say is comprehensive enough by global standards.

The committee tagged, ‘Digital Identity Ecosystem Legal and Regulatory Reform Working Group’, comprising MDAs, CSOs and the private sector did a clause-by-clause review of the draft bill and produced a harmonised version for consideration.

Earlier, the Nigeria Data Protection Bill 2018, which went through a similar process, was not signed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.

Then, communications and digital economy minister, Isa Pantami, then quickly introduced the NDPR 2019 which was adopted by the federal government to guide the industry through it had some flaws, experts said.

The Nigeria Data Protection Bill 2020 was drafted by the interagency committee based on the understanding it would improve the 2018 and be harmonised with the NDPR 2019.

Angry experts

Experts have expressed anger that the federal government is planning to engage consultants for a process that “had already been concluded” by relevant stakeholders in the ecosystem in 2020.

They are also worried that the country is seeking funds from global outfits for an issue that hinges on data security for its citizens.

READ ALSO: Agency re-assures Nigerians on Data Protection

”This bill is at the justice ministry is waiting to be transmitted to Federal Executive Council (FEC), that was what we were told,” said one of the experts, who did not want his name mentioned due to the sensitivity of the position he holds in the digital ecosystem. ”The FEC was expected to send it as Executive Bill to the National Assembly. That is the stage we are until we saw this advertorial.”

”Suddenly we saw the tender advert on the same bill and this calls for answers. For one, what will a World Bank consultant do differently that competent government agencies and industry professionals have not done in the 2020 Bill they worked on tirelessly last year? Also, what is the rationale behind seeking a World bank grant? Is it to feather the nest of some government officials? Are we saying it is right for World Bank to set the stage and determine the bill that will affect our data sovereignty as a nation? We need answers…”

Reactions

Meanwhile, the justice minister’s spokesperson, Umar Gwandu, did not pick his calls when sought for comments on the matter. He did not respond to a subsequent message.

Hadiza Dagabana, GM, Legal and Regulations, NIMC, whose office, handles such matters, did not respond to calls and a message sent to her phone line.

Kayode Adegoke, spokesperson, NIMC, when called on Monday, asked that a message be sent to him to respond to as he was in a meeting.

He is yet to respond hours after.

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WATCH: Jim Acosta & Brian Stelter’s Hilarious Reaction to ‘Breaking News’ Chris Cuomo Was FIRED

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Chris Cuomo’s firing was turned into a “breaking news” story at CNN.

In an ultimate ironic twist about the cruel cable news business, Cuomo’s demise was used to juice ratings on the failing network by having Jim Acosta and Brian Stelter aka Mr. Potato Head deliver the good bad news to CNN viewers.

“This is CNN breaking news,” the dramatic intro led in.

“And we have breaking news to report to you now about CNN anchor Chris Cuomo,” Acosta said deadpan. “Earlier this week, Cuomo was suspended from CNN after documents revealed he had been involved more than previously known in shaping his brother’s, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s, defense.”

“Cuomo, Chris Cuomo, we should point out, has now been terminated here at CNN, ” Acosta added before going to Brian Stelter.

“Brian, obviously this is huge news,” he said. “Not only inside CNN, but for this industry. What can you tell us?”

“Yeah, Chris Cuomo, one of the most popular anchors at CNN,” Stelter said, “One of the best known names in television news, violated journalistic ethics and norms, not once or twice, but many times. And that’s ultimately the result of today’s news.

It’s amazing to see Brian Stelter and Jim Acosta discussing “journalistic norms.” Chris Cuomo had appeared on the network for over a year with his brother Andrew Cuomo, throughout numerous scandals, most egregiously, the nursing home deaths reporting scandal that neither Acosta nor Stelter substantially criticized on-air.

No, it took the actions of a New York Attorney General to shine the light on Chris Cuomo, whose brother just happened to have gotten taken down recently. It appears that Chris Cuomo’s connections in New York politics dried up with his brother’s departure, and now both brothers are out of a job.

Life comes at you fast. But for Acosta and Stelter, pretending they didn’t know Cuomo was violating journalistic ethics for the last year and a half, up to the moment of “breaking news,” is unintentionally hilarious. If there were any justice at CNN, all of Chris Cuomo’s fellow journalists who turned a blind eye to his bad behavior should be on the hot seat, as well.

NOW READ:

BREAKING: Chris Cuomo Has Officially Been *FIRED* from CNN



OPINION:
This article contains commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.


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China's Military 'Formidable Challenge' But U.S. Not Seeking 'Asian Version of NATO': Lloyd Austin

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chinas military formidable challenge lloyd austin says

As China’s military ramps up its capabilities—including with nuclear and hypersonic weapons—its U.S. counterpart says it is not intimidated.

“America isn’t a country that fears competition,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in prepared remarks for a Reagan National Defense Forum speech in California on Saturday, according to Voice of America.

“We’re facing a formidable challenge,” he said. “And we’re going to meet this one with confidence and resolve—not panic and pessimism.”

A report released by the Pentagon in November estimated that China is rapidly expanding its nuclear force.

The Pentagon estimates that the nation could increase its nuclear missile count to 1,000 by 2030.

“The PLA’s evolving capabilities and concepts continue to strengthen [China’s] ability to ‘fight and win wars’ against a ‘strong enemy,’ a likely euphemism for the United States,” the Pentagon report stated.

China’s recent tests of a hypersonic weapon have also raised concerns. General Mark Milley said the weapon tests were close to a “Sputnik moment,” referring to a satellite released by the Soviet Union in 1957.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says the U.S. isn’t intimidated as China ramps up its military capabilities. Above, he speaks at an event in the White House on November 10.
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Milley told Bloomberg in October that China will pose the largest threat to the U.S. national security in the coming years.

“As we go forward—over the next 10, 20, 25 years—there’s no question in my mind that the biggest geostrategic challenge to the United States is going to be China. That I have no doubt at all,” he said.

Austin said this week that China was increasing tensions in Asia with its hypersonic weapon tests and that the U.S. will “continue to maintain the capabilities to defend and deter against a range of potential threats from the PRC to ourselves and to our allies.”

In his speech Saturday, Austin notes that the U.S. “has been stepping up its efforts” to respond to China. He says that officials are considering using more money for research and development, and that they are already spending funds on stealth and drone technology, Voice of America reports.

“When we maintain our technological edge, we maintain our military edge,” he says in the speech. “The United States has an advantage that no autocracy can match—our combination of free enterprise, free minds, and free people.”

While the U.S has strengthened existing alliances with countries including Japan and Australia, Austin says the U.S. isn’t looking to turn other nations against China: “We’re not seeking an Asian version of NATO or trying to build an anti-China coalition. And we’re not asking countries to choose between the United States and China.”

Newsweek has reached out to the Department of Defense for comment, but did not hear back in time for publication on Saturday.

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BREAKING: CNN Terminates Chris Cuomo ‘Effective Immediately’ Over Scandal

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CNN announced on Saturday afternoon that they fired star host Chris Cuomo in response to new information coming out about his alleged involvement in helping his brother, then-New York Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo, navigate a public relations crisis involving sexual misconduct allegations.

This is a breaking news story; refresh the page for updates.

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