Source: Global Voices
‘Are Malawians sleep walking into a surveillance state?’
by Steve Sharra
This article is part of UPROAR, a Small Media initiative that is urging governments to address digital rights challenges at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
In Malawi, authorities increasingly require citizens to give up personal information to engage in everyday life, from using a mobile phone to participating in elections.
But without a clear data protection law, citizens’ rights to privacy are under threat.
In 2017, the Malawi government rolled out nationwide registration. Every Malawian aged 16 and above is required to register into the national register and obtain a national identity card.
This followed the January 2010 national registration and identification system under then-President Bingu wa Mutharika’s National Registration Act. It took five years for the system to become operational on August 1, 2015.
According to the National Registration Bureau (NRB), the national ID system would serve many purposes by acquiring “information about the population” that would enable “policymakers to use data-driven planning” for development and services delivery. For individuals, this would give them “proof of their nationality and personal information so that they can use it to claim their benefits.”