Mrs Teki Akuetteh Falconer, the Executive Director of Data Protection Commission (DPC), on Tuesday said the media was a vital tool for disseminating information to the public and charged them to ensure prudency of data of individuals.
Mrs Falconer said this at a media sensitisation workshop organised by the Commission for journalists in Accra to promote public awareness creation and information dissemination on the Data Protection Act, (Act 843) promulgated in 2012.
The DPC is the constitutionally mandated regulatory body entrusted with the responsibility of protecting individual data in the country.
Mrs Falconer said the media would be a strategic partner in creating public awareness on the data protection law and, therefore, urged media organisations and institutions that dealt with data of individuals to register with the Commission in order not to fall foul of the law.
The Executive Director of DPC also entreated individuals and organisations that process, hold, use or disclose personal information to operate within the confines of the law.
The workshop was used to inaugurate a press corps that would champion public awareness of data protection issues in the country through accurate reportage.The event also provided a platform to deepen the knowledge and understanding of journalists on the data protection law in order to safeguard personal data of individuals and their privacy.
The journalists were drawn from the various media houses comprising the Ghana News Agency, Daily Graphic, the Ghanaian Times, the Business and Financial Times, the Daily Guide, and the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation who would collaborate with the DPC in educating the public and improving reportage on the activities of the Commission.
Mrs Falconer said the Commission was mandated to keep and maintain a data protection register and ensure that data controllers or organisations complied with the law.
She said the Commission investigated and prosecuted institutions that contravened the data protection law and that three organisations had been convicted and fined for failing to register with it.
She urged all media houses to comply with the directive.
Mrs Falconer took participants through topics such as; The Rudiments of Data Protection as well as Journalism and Freedom of Expression.
She urged the media to collect and use information about people fairly and lawfully, without unwarranted harm or intrusion into their private lives.
She said as much as the law protected people’s data privacy, it also recognised the importance of freedom of expression and, therefore, urged the media to strike a fair balance in their reportage.
Mrs Falconer cautioned corporate institutions to handle information about their employees, customers, contacts, sources, or people investigating in order to avoid the breach of privacy.
”The Data Protection Act does not stop you from keeping useful personal information as long as it is obtained legitimately,” she said.
Mr George Andah, the Deputy Minister nominee for Communications, recognised the role of the media as the watch-dog in society and, therefore, welcomed the partnership with the Commission which would enhance public awareness and protect public interest.
He said information dissemination and awareness creation were key re-requisite in implementing the law.
Mr Andah, also the Member of Parliament for Awutu Senya West in the Central Region, said the implementation of the Data Protection Law required a deeper understanding and awareness creation since most people were limited in knowledge regarding the law.
He, therefore, urged the Commission to explore innovative ways to increase public awareness of data protection issues.
”The security and protection of personal data of individuals’ medical diagnosis or treatment, customers in financial transactions, users of communication services and students of educational institutions must be safeguarded,” he said.
He entreated the Commission to extend public education to the rural communities and collaborate with the media to help in that direction.
Source: Ghana News Agency