Some Information and Communication Technology (ICT) experts have punched holes in the Data Protection and Privacy Bill which is expected to be taken to Parliament soon.
During a virtual meeting organised by the ICT Association of Malawi (Ictam), the specialists took turns to highlight areas that need to be amended before the bill is taken to Parliament.
ICT expert and Converged Technology Networks Chief Executive Officer Brian Munyao Longwe said the proposed legislation is burdening regulator, the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra), with responsibilities which could be carried out by other entities.
He said, for instance, that under the Electronic Transaction and Communications Act (ETCA), Macra operates the Computer Emergency Response Team(CERT) while under the Data Protection Bill Macra operates the data protection office and universal service fund, root certificate, authority for digital certificates among others.
“This Bill seems to be putting the cart before the horse. We need underpinning policies, systems and legislation around digitisation in general.
“Data protection legislation in other countries has been used to impose jurisdiction over data and data subjects,” Longwe said.
MultiChoice Africa Director for Regulatory Affairs (Southern Africa) Lloyd Momba said the Bill is also silent on existing codes of conduct for processing existing data in specific sectors.
MHub founder Rachael Sibande said, elsewhere, it has become necessary to make provisions for how data is extracted, processed and stored among other processes.
“One emerging issue in the field of big data is that of algorithmic bias. There is a need for the Bill to enforce technical audits of public good data processing algorithms by a data directorate or a relevant entity to avoid algorithmic bias,” Sibande said.
In an interview, Ictam President Bram Fudzulani said the comments and ideas shared would be submitted to the government for consideration.
Speaking during the opening of the session Minister of information Gospel Kazako said such initiatives are essential to ensure that Malawi moves with speed in developing the ICT industry.