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Data protection

At a glance

Data protection concerns the right of the individual to decide on the use of their data, to protect their privacy and to protect against misuse of data (e.g. by companies or governments). Examples include the privacy of correspondence, e-mail encryption, privacy settings on Facebook, digital source protection in investigative journalism. Data protection is particularly important when working with journalists and whistleblowers, for example in anti-corruption projects.

For German development cooperation, the observance of human rights has the highest priority – also in the digital sphere. Data protection (in the sense of protection of privacy, personal data or informative self-determination) is as much a matter of course as the protection of the right to freedom of expression or freedom of assembly.

In many partner countries, a lack of data security and data protection is the biggest obstacle to making better use of the potentials of digital transformation. In Africa, less than one third of all states have data protection laws. Moreover, many authorities and citizens have little understanding of the risks of data misuse.

Without laws to protect personal data, people rightly fear that their data could be misused. The Federal Government is therefore working on improved state data infrastructures that create digital security for people and companies with suitable legal framework conditions. For example, the German government supported the participation of state and civil society participants in the “1st African Region Data Protection and Privacy Conference” from 24-28 June 2019 in Accra. The purpose of the conference was to exchange experiences and provide advice to African data protection authorities on how to draft, improve and establish data protection legislation. The German government also supports national regulators such as central banks and finance ministries in developing data protection standards in the financial sector and uses international forums to disseminate them (e.g. CSTD, STI Forum, WSIS, IGF, G20).

In the implementation of DC projects with digital components, the project identification and preparation process examines whether, when measured against national and international data protection regulations, there is a risk of data protection being impaired and, if so, to what extent. Depending on the nature of the risk, the project may not be carried out at all or only under certain conditions. In order to ensure that 1are adequately taken into account in the implementation phase, the project executing agencies will be supported in this respect, if necessary, through staff support measures.

We thus contribute to creating awareness of the need for data protection in partner countries and to building up corresponding knowledge in the project executing agencies.