Does the new DVLA policy contravene Ghana’s data protection law?

Digital Transports
Digital Transports

Government has finally slapped a new tax, on all ride-hailing trips like Uber, Bolt and Yango.

The tax, which was announced on April 1, allows the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) to implement its Digital Transport Guidelines, a new policy that forces Ghanaians to pay an additional charge of GHS1 for every trip they take on ride-hailing apps.

The tax applies even before the taxi begins a trip.

Data protection breach 

As if that was not enough burden on Ghanaians, DVLA’s new guidelines may also force ride-hailing apps to break Ghana’s data privacy laws.

Having a data protection certificate is a requirement for ride-hailing companies operating in Ghana, and the new DVLA guidelines acknowledges this. However, the new rules from the agency will force ride-hailing companies to share business and personal customer information with the DVLA for every trip completed. Data, the agency wants to collect include:

  • Passenger information
  • Driver Name
  • Departure and arrival time stamps
  • Departure and arrival GPS Coordinates
  • Trip distance
  • Date of Transaction
  • License Number of Driver
  • Vehicle Registration Number
  • Driver, vehicle and passenger ratings

According to the DVLA, the data will enable it to collect the revenue from its new tax net, which is supposed to be remitted monthly by ride-hailing companies.

The DVLA is also mandating ride-hailing companies to verify their passengers’ identities using the Ghana Card.

Data Protection Law 

In 2012, Ghana passed its Data Protection Act. The law bars companies that process personal data from infringing the privacy rights of Ghanaian residents. Requiring ride-hailing companies to process and potentially share the biometric information of Ghana Card holders may open fronts for data abuse and privacy violations.

The danger here is that both of these acts will involve private companies processing personal information, which is totally prohibited by the Data Protection Act of 2012.

At this point, experts are still unclear on whether the new policy is legal. Section 18 (1) of the law prohibits breach of privacy. But Section 21 gives conditions under which data collected by one entity can be shared with another, and the conditions include; for the purposes of revenue collection, among other things.

The new guidelines also mandate ride-hailing drivers to pay some annual fees, including GH¢30 for driver licence verification and GH¢33 for vehicle permits.

Everyday Ghanaians, on the other hand, have taken to social media to express how the new policy will lead to double taxation.

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