Data Protection C’ssion launches investigation into EC sale of electorate data

The Data Protection Commission has launched an investigation into the Electoral Commission’s (EC) sale of electoral data of electorate.

 Although the details outlined in the special audit by the Auditor-General’s Department point to a breach, the Data Protection Commission is investigating the matter dispassionately and objectively.

The Electoral register allows the electorate to vote. Beyond that, their concern must be sought before their data is released even though the EC is a legitimate data controller in striking a deal with a software development company.

Patricia Adusei-Poku, the Executive Director of the Ghana Data Protection Commission, made the disclosures on the back of revelations by the Auditor-General that the EC sold voters’ data to an Accra-based software development company, Bysystems Ghana Limited.

She insisted that the EC needed to have sought approval from the electorate before selling electoral data to a third party although it was a legitimate data controller. In striking the controversial deal with the software development company, the purpose and nature of the deal should have been made known to the public.

“These are bits of information that should be documented and made available if possible, in advance, to data subjects, which is you and I. The electorates should have been given that transparency in order to be able to either object or agree.

“There is one clear purpose for the electoral register, to allow us to vote. Beyond that, the concern of the electorate must be sought,” Ms Adusei-Poku stressed.

Dr Kojo Asante, the Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement at the Centre for Democratic Development-Ghana (CDD-Ghana), was dismayed and surprised the EC agreed to sell electoral data to private a firm and recalled when his centre approached the commission for data to facilitate their research, the EC was less cooperative.

“When you hear that the Electoral Commission is comfortable to pass on information, not even for the purposes of an election but to a private company in a format the private company can use in whatever reason, is worrying,” he bemoaned.  

According to the audit report, the company bought the data from the EC, who sold them to financial service providers for a fee. The special audit on the EC, as part of special audits carried out by the Auditor-General on selected state institutions in 2018,  also revealed no agreement between the EC and the company on the sale of voters’ information. -myjoyonline.com

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