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What does the GDPR mean for Africa?

Web Foundation · June 19, 2018

Digital rights are human rights. They are fundamental and universal. And, because we share so much of ourselves online today, our right to privacy is one of the rights we must fight hardest to protect.

As advocates for online privacy and data protection, we cheered as the EU’s new data protection rules — the GDPR — came into effect in May, giving people in the EU a host of new rights and powers over how their personal data is collected, processed and used.

However, data protections and privacy should not stop at the European border. Is the data of people living in Ireland and Germany more worthy of protecting than those in Indonesia and Ghana? We don’t think so.

The changes that companies have made to be in compliance with GDPR need to benefit everyone. These firms must do what they can to make sure the rights of all their users are equally protected.

Nanjira Sambuli, Web Foundation Digital Equality Advocacy Manager, spoke recently with CGTN Africa to discuss what, if anything, the GDPR changes for people in Africa, where data protection laws are largely absent or not enforced.

The reality is that few countries have comprehensive data protection laws. This means companies have a critical role to play in helping to level the playing field until governments step up to ensure digital rights for everyone.

In the longer term, governments need to pass comprehensive laws that protect data privacy — and make sure they’re funded and enforced. Otherwise, the divide in digital rights between those living in the EU — and other countries with strong protections — and those elsewhere, will continue to grow, leaving the majority of internet users as second-class digital citizens.

For more information, read our white paper on Control of Personal Data and our Personal Data Protection in Nigeria Report.

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