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What is happening to data privacy in Europe and Africa?

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The interconnectedness of information as a result of the Internet and major tech advancements have led to deep-rooted concerns

Data privacy has become a great cause for concern globally. The interconnectedness of information as a result of the Internet and major advancements in technology have in fact deepened the concern among national citizens and governments. 

It is reported that 87 percent of people accept the terms and conditions of privacy policies without reading them. This lack of interest is a reason by itself for lowering better protection of personal data. That coupled with the integration of technology has become an added disadvantage in the matter. 

Shocking numbers among European citizens 

Reboot Online conducted a study on the matter to find which European citizens trust the public authorities with personal data the least. The research found that 78 percent of citizens in Spain trust the public authorities with personal data the least. Ireland follows with 73 percent of its citizens demonstrating skepticism in building trust with public authorities for the same. 

That said, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom have attained the third position, with 68 percent of citizens in each of those countries lacking confidence in their public authorities. In this context, Shai Aharony, the Co-Founder and Managing Director of  Reboot Online said “Personal data is a highly sensitive issue and one that many of  us care about deeply. Rightfully so, because every time we  disclose personal information online, we are putting it into the  trust of someone else. 

“So, the expectation is for reputable  private and public organisations to be very careful in the way  they store and use our personal data. This though is not always the case and this research highlights the European citizens who  are most concerned about how public authorities in their  country manage their personal data. Whilst the level of trust  in public authorities with regards to personal data varies  between countries, all private and public organisations need to  be highly transparent, responsible and ethical when it comes  to how they keep and utilise people’s personal data.” For that reason, it has become imperative for authorities and organisations in Europe and beyond to ensure the policies are in place and the citizens’ data are well protected. 

Current complexities in Africa 

In Africa, the nations are on the threshold of a technological revolution, yet there are constraints that need to be removed. Cloud computing, for example, is gaining momentum on the continent. But the existing constraints largely point to the relative absence of robust policies that are needed to strengthen data privacy. 

For now, there are mixed views on whether data localisation laws must be enforced because they have the potential to dwarf growth and lower foreign direct investment. Yet, seventeen African countries have adopted data localisation laws and the impact of the move is somewhat upsetting. Again, this has stoked big fear among African citizens and for that reason, organisations are investing a lot of efforts to ensure that data privacy is realised. 

Ibrahim Youssry, the general manager of Microsoft, Middle East & Africa Emerging Markets, told International Finance, “Microsoft has long standing commitments to privacy and, with the understanding that our customer data belongs to them, we have regularly taken steps to give customers more information and more choice, including being the first large company to voluntarily extend strong privacy protections offered under the GDPR to customers around the world.” Such reassurance and proactive approach are necessary especially on the back of growing concerns in data privacy.

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