Ethiopia

Ethiopia has no specific legislation on data protection, and the issue is relatively new to public discourse in the country. Civil society efforts are currently focused on promoting greater awareness around personal data protection issues and getting in at the ground level to ultimately propose draft legislation.

To learn more about data protection topics and programming in Ethiopia, take a look at the Bolivia resource page here, or browse resources via specific categories below

Ethiopia Resources

Data Protection in Ethiopia

Tags - Country Context, Legal Framework
Ethiopia
English

DLA Piper, 2021 

A summary of the main aspects of the privacy regulations currently in place in Ethiopia.

Digital ID in Ethiopian refugee camps: A case study

Tags - Systems of Data Collection
Ethiopia
English, French, Spanish

The Engine Room, 2020

The report seeks to explore the impressions of different actors of Ethiopia about the normative and technical deployment of the Digital Identity scheme. It consisted of four in-depth interviews with key informants in UNHCR and partner organisations as well as interviews and focus group discussions with 25 refugees in Histas and Jewi camps. Some of the conclusions are that there are low levels of awareness and understanding on Digital ID and a lack of informed consent.

Freedom in the World — Ethiopia Country Report

Tags - Country Context
Ethiopia
English

Freedom House, 2020

The report presents an overview of the situation of human rights in the country. It includes information about violations of privacy and the exercise of digital rights by the government. For example: Internet shutdowns, mass surveillance, etc.

Kidane v. Ethiopia

Tags - Engaging Government, Systems of Data Collection
Ethiopia
English

EFF, 2017

EFF has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, DC alleging that the government of Ethiopia, using notorious surveillance malware known as FinSpy, illegally wiretapped and invaded the privacy of our client, a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil. Essentially, the malware took over their client’s computer and secretly sent copies of his activities, including Skype calls, web searches and indications of websites visited, to the Ethiopian government.

Looking to understand existing case law to guide advocacy and strategic litigation?
Interested to learn more about the status of data protection in Ethiopia?
Click below for more resources to inform advocacy, community building, enforcement, and other topics in support of rights-respecting data protections.
What does the legal landscape look like in Ethiopia?

The following snapshot is intended to help identify and understand the various factors impacting the passage of rights-respecting data protection legal frameworks. This includes the roadblocks to establishing a dedicated law, the key issues being considered within the data privacy conversation, the political circumstances under which these developments take place, and the ongoing advocacy practices that aim to support data privacy regulations.

Exclusive Statute/Bill/Draft

There is no overarching data protection law in force in Ethiopia at the moment.

Related Draft Legislations

An expert group under the Ministry of Innovation and Technology prepared a Draft Proclamation on Personal Data Protection in 2019. There haven’t been any public debates on the Draft so far. The expectation is that more consultations and public discussions will be arranged to discuss the draft with stakeholders.

Features of the Draft

The Draft proposes the establishment of a Data Protection Commission which will have the sole responsibility of implementing data protection and data privacy rights

Related and Sector-Specific Laws

Certain other laws contain clauses that have implications for data protection and privacy issues. These include:

 

The Communication Service Proclamation 1148/2019

The Civil Code of 1960

The Criminal Code, 1957

Federal Tax Administration Proclamation No. 983/2016

Exclusive Statute/Bill/Draft

There is no overarching data protection law in force in Ethiopia at the moment.

Related Draft Legislations

An expert group under the Ministry of Innovation and Technology prepared a Draft Proclamation on Personal Data Protection in 2019. There haven’t been any public debates on the Draft so far. The expectation is that more consultations and public discussions will be arranged to discuss the draft with stakeholders.

Features of the Draft

The Draft proposes the establishment of a Data Protection Commission which will have the sole responsibility of implementing data protection and data privacy rights

Related and Sector-Specific Laws

Certain other laws contain clauses that have implications for data protection and privacy issues. These include:

 

The Communication Service Proclamation 1148/2019

The Civil Code of 1960

The Criminal Code, 1957

Federal Tax Administration Proclamation No. 983/2016

Predominant Hurdles In Implementation

Currently, there is limited technical understanding and knowledge with regard to data protection among the larger public and civil society organisations alike. Even regulators often have difficulties understanding the principles and norms of data protection and how to apply them.

Key National Issues in the Field

The legal issues governing surveillance and interception of communications by public authorities are central to the data protection and privacy debate in Ethiopia. Public authorities are allowed search and seizures of personal data without warrant and judicial oversight under the Computer Crime Proclamation.

In addition, difficulty of access to information in general in the country may pose a challenge to enforcing the rights of data subjects seeking access to information from data controllers once the data protection bill is passed.

Key National Issues in the Field

The legal issues governing surveillance and interception of communications by public authorities are central to the data protection and privacy debate in Ethiopia. Public authorities are allowed search and seizures of personal data without warrant and judicial oversight under the Computer Crime Proclamation.

In addition, difficulty of access to information in general in the country may pose a challenge to enforcing the rights of data subjects seeking access to information from data controllers once the data protection bill is passed.

With a lack of reporting on and understanding of data protection issues, advocacy efforts need to start at the fundamental level of establishing that individuals have a right to protection of their personal data.

Goals

The current advocacy focus is on capacity building for civil society organisations, increasing awareness among the general public, and providing research inputs to policymakers.

Challenges

There is a judicial reluctance to enforce fundamental rights, which poses a challenge to advocacy efforts.

Hear from CARD

ADAPT’s partner CARD has been conducting advocacy promoting data privacy in the country since early 2021. Check out their blogs and podcasts that showcase some of the core elements of their work and the issues that they prioritize.

Ethiopia Podcasts

EPISODE 3

Pushing Towards Data Protection: An Advocate’s Guide by Privacy is Global

Ethiopia Blog Posts

15 minutes /
Ethiopia has not yet adopted a personal data protection law. While there are some scattered legislations that deal with data protection related issues such as the criminal code and the computer crime proclamation, there is no comprehensive legislation that regulates data protection in Ethiopia. However, in 2020 the government of Ethiopia under the auspices of the Ministry of Innovation and...
Mesenbet Assefa

Mesenbet Assefa

12 minutes /
When discussing data protection regulations, particularly the passage of comprehensive data protection laws, the issue of what falls within scope and what exemptions exist to circumvent them often arises. This comes into focus in reviewing the cases in which personal data processing for the purposes of public security, national defense or criminal persecution are weakened or completely excluded from the...
Data Privacy Brazil

Data Privacy Brazil

10 minutes /
This workshop took place in the context of the Data Privacy Learning Series, a series of five events with members of the ADAPT project, whose goal is to tackle concrete issues around advocacy and activism on data protection in the Global South. The series is being conducted by Data Privacy Brasil Research Association with the support of Internews and the...
Data Privacy Brazil

Data Privacy Brazil

10 - 15 minutes /
Meaning and Scope of Data Protection   The advent of the digital era has transformed the way we communicate and organize our work and personal data in a way unthinkable a few years ago. The internet and the ability of individuals to communicate, store data, share data, and perform all their personal and professional issues has transformed significantly. The unprecedented...
Mesenbet Assefa

Mesenbet Assefa