Privacy and data protection


On the eve of the one year anniversary of the entry into force of the GDPR, EU Commissioner Jourova publicly asked member states to respect to the letter and the spirit of the GDPR. According to Euractiv, this declaration came up as a number of countries, such as Greece and Portugal, have yet to adopt laws to fully comply with the GDPR. Jourova also added that the Irish data protection authority had the "most difficult task" among all.

An office worker who believes his image was captured by facial recognition cameras in the street by the police has launched a legal action against the use of such technology. An UK court heard on the 21 May arguments from him and public authorities. According to the Guardian, the office worker argued that he had a reasonable expectation that his face would not be scanned in a public space and processed without his consent while he was not suspected of wrongdoing. On the other hand, the police developed that facial recognition does not infringe privacy rights.

San  Fransisco city, United States has banned use of facial recognition technology by police and other government departments. The move is contained in the Acquisition of Surveillance Technology Code which creates a rights based approach to surveillance technology through mechanisms such as prior approval before purchase of surveillance software, surveillance impact assessments, surveillance audits and surveillance policies for each department operating surveillance software.

Facial recognition software is being increasingly adopted for policing around the world. Rights groups such as American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have raised concern about bias and inaccuracies with most facial recognition software, particularly against people of colour and women.

San Francisco's  ban does not affect application of facial recognition in spaces under the federal government such as airports. It received support from the San Francisco Police Department which according to reports is internally auditing use of surveillance technology. A local rights group, Stop Crime SF opposed the law, citing public safety concerns. They advised on a moratorium as they expect improvements in facial recognition technology to address current bias concerns.

Nigeria is implementing a presidential directive requiring harmonisation of all data held in government registries such as driving licences, ID cards and passports. Government officials reported that the body charged with administration of the identification data, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC),  has already registered that 37 million Nigerians. The harmonisation also includes registration of SIM cards where mobile network operators are collecting biometric data of their subscribers for verification.

While many government and private agencies collect personal data, Nigeria does not yet have a privacy law. The Senior Special Adviser to the President on Information, Communication and Technology, Lanre Osibona, announced that plans were underway to enact a data protection framework.

Under the current harmonisation of identification of identification programme, Nigerians whose biometrics have been captured are issued with a National Identification Number (NIN).

The proposed expansion of data protection rules in California did not secure sufficient support from California’ Senate. According to Reuters, the bill that could have expanded the ability of consumers to sue companies over their handling of personal data, a win for tech industry groups concerned about wide-ranging privacy lawsuits.

The Board of Supervisors in the city of San Francisco adopted an anti-surveillance ordinance which, among other provisions, bans the use of facial-recognition technology by the police and other city departments. Due to enter into force in a month, the ordinance includes an exception for the San Francisco International Airport and the Port of San Francisco, both under federal control. It also does not contain provisions preventing the use of facial recognition technology by businesses or residents of the city. The measure was welcomed by civil rights groups: the American Civil Liberties Union commended city authorities for 'declar[ing] that face surveillance technology is incompatible with a healthy democracy and that residents deserve a voice in decisions about high-tech surveillance'. The ordinance also provides that any city department that wants to use surveillance technology needs to get approval from the Board of Supervisors.​



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