Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tanzania lag on privacy law

It is sad to concede that in Tanzania there is no comprehensive privacy legislation.  While ICT has stormed Tanzania and the citizens are deploying ICT in everyday life the framework for privacy protection in these emerging technologies is not known.
Of course this does not mean that right to privacy is not recognized in Tanzania. The United Republic of Tanzania (URT) Constitution of 1977 as amended form time to times defines privacy as follows:
‘…Every person is entitled to respect and protection of his person, the privacy of his own person, his family and of his matrimonial life, and respect and protection of his residence and private communications…’
Article 16(2) goes further stipulating   that:
‘…For the purpose of preserving the person’s right in accordance with this Article, the state authority shall lay down legal procedures regarding the circumstances, manner and extent to which the right to privacy, security of his person, his property and residence may be encroached upon without prejudice to the provisions of this Article…’
Article 16(1) and (2) of United Republic of Tanzania Constitution of 1977 as amended form time to time provides for right to privacy.  Article 16(2) of URT constitution provides for possibility of other laws to encroach the right to privacy. The said article stipulates clearly that the law maker will enact law to stipulate how privacy right may be protected, pursued or encroached by government agents.Unfortunately this requirement has not been put into implementation.

Ironically in Tanzania there are more laws restricting privacy than laws protecting privacy. Consider Criminal Procedure Act, Law of Evidence Act, Anti Money Laundering Act, Prevention of Terrorism Act, just to mention a few.
Privacy is the right to left alone. In other words privacy relates to person’s integrity. In other jurisdictions like EU personal privacy is referred to as personal data. Under the EU Personal Data Directive of 1995 personal data is anything that identify or can indentify or can lead to identification of an individual. It ranges from a person’s name, address, face, voice, to human body parties like genes or person’s DNA samples.
Under EU data legislation personal data cannot be processed unless the data subject has given his or her consent. However collection or processing of data for billing purposes, or furnishing legimate transaction or for any other purpose like national  security as defined by law consitute an exception to consent requirement and data can thus be collected without data subject’s consent.
The concern about privacy is increasing as new technologies are emerging.  Apart from ICT in particular Internet which has brought so many challenges we are now facing new technologies like Biotechnology and Nanotechnology. One should not forget Radio Frequency Identifier (RFID) which has a potential of infringing privacy. Also Collection and processing of personal data in shopping malls/supermarkets. Equally important is DNA information  which if disclosed amounts to privacy infringement.
One common privacy infringement is the collection and processing of personal data by ICT vendors and ICT service providers particularly websites without data subjects’ conset. Once a person visits a particular website his or her personal information like name or IP address is collected without his consent.
In Tanzania these matters have not been taken seriously.
Before Tanzania had addressed privacy issues are brought by ICT especially Internet as  the country is now connected to global Internet the country  enacted DNA Act in 2009.  The question of privacy has not between treated well under the DNA Act.  The country will establish DNA database but there is no framework for privacy protection.
Such lag is annoying, I know not so many Tanzanians are aware of how Communication Service providers are using consumers’ personal information. They are using such information for marketing purposes. They also use such information to evaluate their businesses.  Hence monitoring and surveillance in Tanzania is rampant particularly onlinesurveillance.
As that is not enough one will be surprised as the surveillance is not done by website owners or communication service providers only but even emplyers are reading employees e mails, this for sure is surveillance. Thus Tanzanians privacy is not secured in Tanzania.
It is important to this of privacy in broad perspectives. We should not limit ourselves to privacy infringement in traditional sense like where the policy come to a persn’s home and search the primises or where a person is stopped by police and searched. You here a person saying you are interfering with my personl integrity.
We need to retain such integrity even online. But that has been made difficulty by our lag in enacting Privacy legislation in Tanzania. We have to blame ourselves for such lag.
It is worth of note that so long we visit websites so long we use ICT facilities, so long we use our credit cards, our Internet banking, we shop in the supermarkets then we are not going to be left alone.
We will be able to balance national security and other interests with privacy only if we enact privacy legislation. In this way our privacy online will be guaranteed.

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