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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Tanzania's Data Protection and Border Reforms


Hi there 👋🏼,

Ready for a rollercoaster of topics in this week's African Diaspora Weekly? We're dishing out Lessons from the Big Five's Security Protocols, gearing up for the Paris 2024 Olympics, and guess who's making headlines? Stevie Wonder snagging Ghanaian citizenship! Yep, it's all happening.

Chief Editor,

Sonia Salim Swalhe


By Mutayoba Arbogast

In a bold move to tackle escalating crime rates, the Big Five nations—New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States—have agreed to share biographic data, immigration information, and security alerts. This enhanced cooperation aims to fortify security systems and serves as a wake-up call to conflict-ridden African countries like Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Big Five's treaties stipulate that visa violations in one member state could render applications invalid across all five nations, reinforcing a unified stance on security. Though it is hard to dispute beyond doubt that these countries have now gone immune from conflicts, the pacts entered to grapple with all security concerns deserve accolades.

Critics are of the view that most Africans suffer from the visa and identity conundrum putting their struggle as economic refugees in jeopardy.

Mr. Iverson John, a Tanzanian who had stayed in the United States for some years expressed his ordeal after he was hunted in the United States where he was accused of being involved in armed robbery. “I traveled to Canada via Detritus from Arkansas where I had stayed for over 12 years. On the border of Canada and the US, I was nabbed and repatriated, thank goodness my charges were quashed in the court of law. I was tight-lipped to learn that all security information was shared among the big 5 eyes,” he recalls.

The 5 countries reveal the extent of cooperation between the allies on the exchange of biometric and biographic information and border management. According to the New York Times report, in June 2017 the Ministry of Business and Employment (MBIE) in New Zealand implemented what it called the state-secure Real-Time Platform (SRTP), a system in the UK, US, and Australia to push for sharing of identity data including biometrics. The SRTP speeds up responses to identify questions among border agencies in the five sovereign countries.

In the early days minutes from the M5 data sharing work Group (DSWG) showed trials were carried out on sending biographic information to partners to supplement the biometric data. They were also already sharing border agencies in New Zealand which sent over 14,00 fingerprints to each of its four patterns in 2017, according to the documents realized under the Official Information Act.

In December 13, 2012, Canada signed a treaty with the United States of America to enable systematic immigration information sharing between the two countries on third-country nationals, prevent people from assuming different identities between one country and the other, and identify those who have committed serious crimes or violated immigration laws in another country to enable a more informed decision on visas, admissibility or other immigration benefits.

The treaties signed among member states are so binding that they can hardly be tempered with and there have been systematic reviews and updates which are agreed upon by the big 5 to avert crime rates and ensure economic prosperity. Information privy to the intelligence systems among the big 5 member states points out that despite efforts to deal with crimes among member states, the personal data system laws and regulations are safeguarded to ensure privacy as enshrined in international laws.

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