The President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Monday, 12th June 2023 exercised his presidential right of assent by signing the Data Protection Bill 2022 into Law. This new law is coming after some years of anticipation for a federal statute on data protection and privacy matters in Nigeria. Recall that, prior to the passage of the new law, reliance was placed on regulatory enactments like the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) and other subsidiary instruments and sector-specific laws for the regulation of data privacy and protection matters in Nigeria. However, the coming into effect of the new Nigeria Data Protection Act 2023, provides the first national legal framework on data protection in Nigeria, in addition to the provisions on privacy in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended (CFRN).
The new Act introduces an independent regulatory Commission known as Nigerian Data Protection Commission (formerly Nigerian Data Protection Bureau), to regulate data protection and privacy issues, and to supervise data controllers and data processors. The Act provides for the appointment of the National Commissioner and other staff as well as financial provisions to regulate the commission. It also highlights the principles and lawful basis governing personal data, rights conferred on data subjects, data security, cross-border transfers of personal data, and registration of Data Controllers and Processors of major importance. The Act also contains enforcement mechanisms, legal proceedings, and miscellaneous provisions to ensure effective implementation of the legislation.
The enactment of the new Act is a welcome development in the privacy space in Nigeria, as it will help strengthen the legal foundations of the national digital economy and guarantee the participation of Nigeria in the regional and global economies. The new law also substantially resolves festering questions surrounding the legal status of NITDA/NDPB as regulators in the privacy and data protection space and sidesteps the relatively weak status of the NDPR 2019 as a piece of subsidiary legislation