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Opinions of Sunday, 3 February 2008

Columnist: Kyei-Nimakoh, Janus

A Stitch In Time Saves Nine.

During August 2007, ECOBANK Ghana was the most recent organisation to initiate the first ever Visa Credit Card in the country. Modernization of Ghana's payment systems is long overdue and I personally call for more of such positive developments.

I was even more excited when I got to know that the Bank of Ghana would license the first ever Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) by the first quarter of 2008. Doctor Mahamudu Bawumia (ghana.gov.gh), second Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BOG) disclosed this at the opening of the Takoradi branch of the International Commercial Bank (ICB). I hope the passage of the Borrowers and Lenders Bill (BLB) has come into fruition by now.

However, in the mean time nothing is being mentioned about the Great Nations? Data Protection Policies to date.

Many organisations hold and use information about us. The following are just a few examples of bodies who hold and use personal data of their various customers (in Ghana) daily; Ghana?s Voters? register, The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), credit card companies, missing persons? register, The Ghana Police records, Ghana Immigration Service, Ghana?s Passport Offices, the VAT Service Ghana, Medical records stored all over various Ghanaian hospitals, Ghanaian Customs Excise and Preventative Service (CEPS), the various Ministries in Ghana, Ghana Telecom ? other mobile phone Operators, Internal Revenue Service, Accra Metropolitan Area (AMA) authority & other social services nationwide, the various educational institutions' records and each one of the numerous Financial institutions in Ghana currently.

Are there any guidelines/policies laid out for them (i.e. the Data Controllers, Data Processors and Data Subjects ) to follow regarding their Data Protection Rights(responsibilities) at all ? Should we consider having exceptions in the Data Protection guidelines in certain situations?

Do we as a nation (Ghana) accept that those who use computers or other electronic media to handle and process personal information are the singular judges of whether their systems ensures the privacy of the data subjects or prevent the data in question from falling into wrong hands?

What do you do if this information held about you is out of date or if an organisation uses this information against your wishes?

An information commissioner?s responsibility is to protect personal information and promote public access to official information. Does Ghana have a reliable information commissioner at all?

I hope we implement and run a very reliable Data Protection policy before we are taken by surprise by some huge data security breach. The world is now a global village and we live an information age. Enough said.

There has been several talks about the implementation of an E-Governance system in Ghana. Does any one know the Progress of work on Ghana?s plan of an E-Governance system ? Asempa Ye Tia.

By: Kyei-Nimakoh, Janus
Email: nimakoh6@yahoo.com