July 27, 2008

Dissertation Proposal on the Legal Framework for Nigeria

I. Introduction
The age-old adage “information is power” may well have been the most used line in studies dealing with the issues of data protection and privacy. In this day and age where academics dispute on whether society has actually achieved a level of social change in the advent of the information age. Having that claim in mind, it is more likely that information has changed its nature from being something intangible to something that is immensely powerful. At some point, such power will inevitably encounter individuals who, for personal gains, will use it unscrupulously. Hence, the birth of privacy issues and the consequent emergence of data protection laws took place. This study will make a detailed analysis of the data protection laws on which attempt to shelter privacy of the public. The process will start from a general regard on the issue of data protection laws and privacy. Specifically, a presentation on the origins and the evolution of these data protection regimes will be given. In the subsequent chapters, a detailed examination on the specific national regimes that places importance on the privacy of its citizens, as well as those who sojourn in their territories. The core of the study will be the analysis of the circumstances surrounding Nigeria with reference to the data protection laws in place. In the said chapter a closer look on the main implications of this regime on the individual, nation state and businesses will be carried out. The subsequent chapters will then propose certain changes on the structure of the existing data protection laws based on the initial discussions and based on the models provided in the regimes of other countries.

II. Privacy Defined
In a world pervasive of data, the danger of having one’s privacy taken away is nothing less than ubiquitous. Numerous studies and articles have been created to place a single definition on the concept of privacy. According to Privacy International, the concept of privacy is inherently a “fundamental human right.” It even pushes the envelope some more by claiming that it may well be one of the most highly held human rights in this day and age. In the study made by Solove (2001, 1393), he mentioned that privacy is akin to an individual’s power. Specifically, privacy is infused within an “elaborate web of social relationships.” At this period, such relationships could be intermingled with both private and public institutions that highly influence the life of the common person. Legally, privacy is characterised as the right of the individual to be protected from any intrusion of his/her personal affairs. In the Australian context, privacy is explicitly stated as one of the foundations that “underpins human dignity” as well as other elements such as “social freedom and freedom of speech. Looking at these claims, it shows that the term privacy is held closely to equate to the other inherent liberties of the common person. Nowadays, even the simplest transaction requires one of the parties to give out some form of information which could be used against these inherent rights defined in the preceding paragraph. To succinctly provide a viable definition of privacy would not give justice to the importance of the said concept. The following parts shall further dissect the meaning of the term in the aspects involving personal data, physicality, correspondence, and surveillance.

III. Aspects of Privacy

A. Information Privacy

B. Bodily Privacy

C. Privacy of Communications

D. Territorial Privacy

IV. Privacy Protection Law Models

V. Individual’s Right to Privacy

VI. Data Protection

VII. Evolution of Data Protection

VIII. Subconclusion

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