NAIROBI, KENYA: Unwanted Witness, a privacy and data protection watchdog has launched the 2022 Privacy Scorecard Report, a monitoring tool set to determine the legal protections of personal data and privacy. The scorecard unveiled during this year’s 4th Privacy Symposium Africa (PSA) in Kenya’s capital Nairobi was tailored for both Kenya and Uganda.
The survey done in collaboration with Strathmore University’s Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) was unveiled at the culmination of a three-day Privacy Symposium Africa 2022 held at Strathmore University. The event attracted panels and participants from across the continent.
The scorecard report highlighted solutions to improve compliance with data laws not only in the two subject countries but in Africa as a whole.
Speakers highlighted that data Protection and Privacy remain contentious subjects, which are largely a push and pull between accountability and responsibility for the entire continent. Lack of accountability continues to expose individuals to damage and companies to deep lawsuits and in return harboring a risky online environment.
“It is important to note that, while digital transformation holds great promise, the world has turned information technology into both a powerful tool and a formidable weapon. We are in an era that is likely to be defined by even more disruptive innovations, like artificial intelligence, which can be used for the good of humanity but, if not properly managed, could also be used to hurt and oppress people,” said Dorothy Mukasa, Executive Director, Unwanted Witness, at the closing ceremony.
In a quest to create a secure, and uncensored online environment for data controllers, processors, and subjects, Unwanted Witness has delved into critical issues on data protection in the 2022 Scorecard report.
The report, mainly focuses on key sectors; telecommunication, e-commerce, and financial services in Kenya and Uganda, was hailed by Kenya’s Data protection Commissioner, Immaculate Kassait who was also one of the contributing panelists during the three day event. She underscored the fact that data had become a new king on the block and ultimate responsibility has to be ensured by its collectors and managers.
The scorecard analyses the policies and practices of these data collectors. Like a double-edged tool, the scorecard report seeks to empower data collectors to adopt legitimate data protection practices, and in the same breath, a call upon citizens to push for accountability in the area of personal data protection.
In this report, Unwanted Witness also reveals the nature of abuse and violations of the rights to privacy by the assessed companies in the respective countries. Also, the Ugandan-based institution aims to arm citizens with a toolkit for evaluating compliance of data collectors and could rely on it for better protection.
Data Protection and Privacy Findings
The report details an assessment of compliance of six private companies in each country, for each sector, two companies were identified for analysis. Unwanted Witness in partnership with CIPIT awarded scores for key categories that define data protection and privacy. The categories also known as indicators will help in scrutinizing how data is handled concerning Data Protection Acts (DPA) in Kenya and Uganda.
In the existence of public, published, readable, and noticeable privacy policies Kenya and Uganda scored 73 percent and 70.8 percent respectively. Uganda scored higher on Informed consent showing companies could prove they obtained data with permission from subjects for a specified use more in Uganda than in Kenya. Uganda scored 66.7 percent while Kenya scored 60%. There was a big difference in the data collection and third-party data sharing with Kenya scoring 63 percent and Uganda at 47 percent. Despite the difference in this particular indicator, this shows that a good number of data subjects are unaware of existing third parties and what their data is used for by these parties in both countries.
On the data security indicator, both countries scored poorly with Kenya at 41 percent and Uganda at 38.9 percent This means that companies in both countries are not keen on safeguarding personal data from accidental access, erasure, alteration, disclosure, or destruction. Finally. the accountability indicator in both countries read 0%. This means that no company in both countries published a transparency report in the year under review to disclose key metrics and information regarding data governance and enforcement measures.
The overall compliance of Kenya and Uganda stood at 47.4 percent and 43.6 percent respectively. This is an indication that both countries have a lot to do to ensure privacy policies adhere to legally acceptable parameters of personal data protection. The 2022 scorecard report goes ahead to review specific sectors; telcos, financial institutions, and e-commerce in both countries showing the most compliant to the least in compliance.
According to Unwanted Witness, Transparency, accountability, and intentionality in data protection are key in the three sectors of focus. This is to create a secure and intact online environment.
“We believe that sharing knowledge and best practices strengthens our capacities and enables key actors like DPAs across Africa to implement the highest standards of data protection on the continent,” concluded Dorothy Mukasa, speaking during the launch of the 2022 Scorecard Report.