The Need for Privacy Legislation in Somaliland

By IndepthAfrica
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Nov 10th, 2012
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By Hamdi Ismail Abdullahi

1. Why Privacy Now?

There is mounting awareness as well as resentment of the routine practice of information about individuals as they act and carry out in the normal course of their commercial and public lives. The significance of this information for privacy has emerged recent as a result of contemporary surveillance practices enabled by advances in information technology in Somaliland, creating what I here call “the problem of privacy in public” As observed in DAHABSHIL Case of 2012 publically exposed the details of his clients by Internet Hackers.

Most of you will agree that privacy is essential because it endorses a number of other ends which are vital for human Prosperity. Basically, privacy is a comprehensive right and it is the right that must be valued by all people. It is the right of people to make personal decisions regarding their own cherished matters, and it is the right of people to be free from such things as electronic surveillance. In other words, Information privacy is the ability of an individual or group to stop information about themselves from becoming known to people other than those they choose to share the information with. More importantly, privacy can also be an aspect of security in which there are trade-offs between the interests of one group and another that can become particularly clear. Without privacy life would be tormenting. It would mean that you would be susceptible to the control of others; you would more likely be manipulated; and more importantly it can leave you out of pocket; in breach of the law or even out of business. Each of these grounds for shielding privacy is essential and collectively they make a person’s choice to look for privacy valuable.

We need to move beyond that sort of “privacy roulette”. It is the Somaliland Parliament, the newly nominated Somaliland National Law reform Commission and their other state counterparts to suggest development of a principled and comprehensive Privacy regime that is independent of specific devices and that features a sort of breach of privacy. Because of the constant social advancement, The Somaliland Penal Code and Procedure of 1963 is unable to cover the current needs on privacy rights and punishment of the violators of this right. And this is one of many reasons why we need reform of the criminal justice system in Somaliland.

The extraordinary growth of information technologies in Somaliland, particularly the widespread adoption of the Internet, has led people in recent years to be increasingly conscious of, and concerned about, the privacy of their Personal information. Somaliland Governments should recognize that unless confidence in privacy protection is built, Somaliland will be slow to realize the potential benefits of new information technologies in Public Administration, particularly the e-governance and the e-commerce. However developing national privacy laws should comprehensively consider that:

A. Privacy is not only about individuals:

Privacy is not only about your personal feelings but also about how private companies and governments treat personal information. Poor control over access to information can have fundamental implications not only on individual privacy, but also on how corporate assets are valued in the marketplace.

B.  Information Security: Monitoring.

There is no privacy without information security. One of the fundamental misconceptions of many of the approaches to privacy legislation and regulation is the idea that it will be possible to prevent data from being created and stored. We all know that this is an illusion. But we need to be able to find out whether data about us has been stored, and if so how it is being monitored. As tools to search and retrieve data become more and more powerful, data compromising your privacy can be found much easier. In Somaliland most of the companies, banks and money transfers security management systems lack proper balance of prevention, detection, and correction. However, this will not waive them from being responsible in the dignitary tort of any violation of these rights. With this said, monitoring and tracking down of the bad guys will appropriate legal framework in place and this includes preventive and punitive mechanisms which allows punishing violators.

Hamdi Ismail Abdullahi, LLB, LLM

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