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The state of data privacy in Ghana: Here is proof CAGD sells our personal data

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Data privacy is about individuals having control over how their personal data is collected and used. In Ghana, Act 843 of The Data Protection Act, 2012 guarantee the right to privacy laid down under Article 18(2) of the 1992 Constitution. Certain authorized organizations may have access to our personal data. The telcos have a large amount of data of their users stored on their servers or networks. The Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD), which is the body mandated to make disbursements on behalf of Government including salaries, have the personal data of public workers. Such organizations may use the data collected subject to the data protection laws.

Whenever you log on to the internet, your internet service provider gets access to your IP address and your location. They may use this information to show personalized ads. Most people aren’t happy about this and that is why virtual private network (VPN) is a thing now because it re-routs your connection and hides you from the service provider making you anonymous.

It is no news that infringement on data privacy of individuals has become rampant here in Ghana and beyond. If you are a public worker in Ghana, then you may have had a myriad of messages from loan companies flooding your inbox. Some go the extreme to refer to the recipients of these unscrupulous messages as CAGD worker.

“Dear CAGD worker, you qualify for an instant loan of Ghc 100,000 with reduced rate and 4 months grace period…”

I took it upon myself to start blacklisting such senders and to my dismay, same messages from the same and other companies kept on flooding my inbox.

How did the loan companies get access to our names and numbers? Apart from CAGD, there are two other sources they could have obtained the data from. These are the teacher unions and the accounts department of government institutions. To find out if CAGD had anything to do with this unlawful data breach, I bought and registered a new sim card and decided not to use this new number for anything other than my government of ghana payslip account.

So I logged on to the gog epayslip platform and changed my number to the newly registered number. In a few weeks, the newly registered number received same messages from loan companies. This is strange and frustrating.

To add insult to injury, prior to the 2020 December elections, most of my colleagues who are CAGD workers had a message from the esteemed office of the President, asking us to vote for the NPP government. An appreciation message followed later after the elections.

Also, for some weird reason, the Electoral Commission Ghana decided to share the personal data of registrants of the voter registration exercise online. Another strange decision from a top notch institution.

Why has CAGD and those who break data laws not been dealt with? Is the Data Protection Act still active at all? If it is active, then those responsible should be held liable for their actions.

The penalties enshrined in the law should be enforced sternly to ensure that these unlawful data practices are brought to nought.

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