Former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Data Protection Commission, Mrs Teki Akuetteh Falconer, has urged mobile subscribers to register complaints to requisite regulators on third party access to their data.
The Data expert revealed that laws in the country must be enforced to ensure that everybody stays within the remits of the law. According to Mrs Falconer, from the telecommunications perspective, subscribers do not even have “clear views” on how they are billed and how monies that they put on their phones are utilized. This, she indicated, is “one flaw” where communication laws must clearly spell out the need for customers and subscribers to be given clear information.
Her comments follow complaints and public outcry over unsolicited subscriptions and communications which have led to loss of airtime of subscribers.
“I think it’s a failure on the part of regulators to put in the mechanisms that ensures that the operators are doing what they are required to do. Also, we as consumers or subscribers have some obligations to make complaints to requisite regulators. I think that, that is also something that we should be doing a lot more of to make sure that we keep the operators on their toes”.Mrs Teki Akuetteh Falconer
Mrs Falconer expressed that there are avenues for redress of the challenges, and for her, that is where the National Communication Authority comes in. Subscribers, she indicated, can make complaints with the NCA which has the oversight role to ensure that the subscribers are protected.
“It is the NCA’s role to enforce the law as required. I think that’s where the biggest challenge comes in. The other side has to do with the data protection law and enforcements of the laws. Of course, aspects of the enforcements also rests on the individual to ask questions and to make sure that they clearly understand. One of the clear obligations under the data protection laws when you’re communicating with consumers, is to make sure that you’re communicating in a clear manner that they can understand”.Mrs Teki Akuetteh Falconer
Implementing data laws in the country
The data expert cautioned against mobile operators using clandestine ways to get customers subscribe to services they would have hitherto not agreed to. She noted that these are things that in other jurisdictions regulators will come in to address. Mrs Falconer lamented that although there are laws in the country, they are not adequately ensuring that consumers are properly protected.
“We can’t shy away from pushing from the enforcement of the laws and that is how laws work… I think that it’s about time we start taking some of these issues up as consumers to make sure the right thing is done. Until we push for the enforcement of the laws, every person or anybody… will take advantage of the loopholes that exists just because we are not enforcing the laws”.Mrs Teki Akuetteh Falconer
Elaborating on the privileges of the subscriber in data laws, Mrs Falconer stated that the customer has the right to know who is getting access to their information, data or monies they are spending. In a similar light, she underscored the need for telecommunication providers to communicate in a very clear manner to the subscriber how their information and airtime are being used.