Right to data privacy in the digital era: a critical assessment of Malawi’s data privacy protection regime
The proliferation of information communication technology (ICT) and consequent increase in the processing of personal data threaten the right to data privacy and related human rights. Although Malawi has comparatively been slow in ICT growth and usage, personal data is now being collected and processed at an unprecedented scale. The processing of personal data is likely to increase as the ICT infrastructure grows and technology becomes more sophisticated. This paper examines whether the right to data privacy, particularly of vulnerable people, is adequately and effectively protected in the digital era in the context of Malawi, a developing country currently classified as one of the poorest countries in the world. This paper demonstrates how the risks of infringement of data privacy may be heightened for the poor and vulnerable. Further, the poor and the vulnerable may not be able to avert or mitigate against adverse consequences in case of infringements of the right to data privacy. Therefore, the paper argues that, despite having laws under which the right to data privacy can be protected, the laws are inadequate and ineffective in view of the threats posed by ICT and prevalent vulnerabilities in Malawi. The paper recommends the promulgation of a more robust, comprehensive and effective data privacy protection law that adequately takes into account the vulnerabilities in Malawi.