In this era of increasing datafication, privacy and data protection issues are of paramount importance in the private and public sectors. Data privacy and protection matters include a broad range of concerns including, but not limited to, regulation, consent, processes, storage, and third-party access. In response to these concerns, several African countries have enacted data protection laws and created regulatory offices to oversee enforcement. These offices are critical in ensuring that users’ digital trails are protected from malicious actors and the data resulting from digital activities is not exploited. This is especially important in activities with monumental consequences such as elections.
Data protection is a key component of a functioning democracy. Data exploitation or manipulation constitute a serious threat to a fair, democratic electoral process and has the potential to undermine open debate, fairness and transparency which are essential in a democracy.
The development of micro-targeting advertisements, for example, from unlawful processing of personal data illustrate the challenges posed by modern technologies, and demonstrates the particular importance of data protection in the electoral context.
This panel will discuss the data protection enforcement challenges faced by the East and Central African countries and key actionable considerations. In light of the upcoming Kenyan and Angolan elections and recently concluded mayoral elections in Senegal, the panel will also discuss the footprint left by voters engaging in electoral processes; the ways in which data generated by voters is utilized; regulations enacted to protect electoral data, and enforcement strategies and gaps.