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I won’t sign that

BY: Caroline Boateng

I continue with the subject of signatures because of some responses I received to the article, "Signatures still pledges, not proofs of presence!" Two responses in particular caught my eye.

The first was from a lawyer who associated completely with my sentiments.

"I can relate with you on the concerns.

The Data Protection Commission has gone quiet lately, but it has a lot of work to do to sensitise Ghanaians to the dos and don’ts of processing people's personal identifiable information," the lawyer said.

The second response, though, sought to say that I was being too hard on myself for refusing to sign and leaving a programme I had prepared to attend.

The person was of the view that I would soon tire myself out if I was to explain at all programmes that I was uncomfortable signing attendance sheets.

The person proposed that I could have merely put my initials.

Several other responses have been along these two lines, some in agreement and the rest not in agreement.

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But the responses from people bothered by my stance have not shaken my resolve that signatures should not be put down on any document at all, more so attendance sheets.

I am resolved in my belief that if for the duration of my work as a journalist I can campaign against this practice, then I would be content.

This is why: I entered the reception of one ministry in my early days of journalism to find that someone had put down the name and signed as myself.

when the alarm was raised and the receptionist turned to confront the culprit, the person, sensing danger slunk, quietly and immediately, away.

Had I not been there that day, this person would have impersonated me and no one would have known.

It would only have come out if there was an issue that required the ministry contacting me to find out if I had really been present and comparing my signature to that of the impersonator.

Signatures are handwritten stylish renditions of someone's name or nickname on documents as proof of identity or intent.

But I believe not on attendance sheets to public events!

It can sometimes be a sign as simple as an initial or even a mark.

That is why the idea of my reader that I should have appended my initials is not acceptable to me.

Even merely initialising would be a show of intent.

My question is: what am I committing myself to do at the programme?

Is it to attend?

If I was committing myself to attend, then my presence at the place where the programme is being organised is proof enough, so why demand a signature?

I do know that sometimes signatures are demanded when money is given out as proof that a person accepted some amount of money.

Indeed, participants in programmes are all made to sign before any amount is handed over to them.

How is it that the same respect cannot be accorded journalists?

Why is it that with journalists, most times, our signatures are taken first before amounts are handed over?

Why can't the journalist validate that this amount has been given and sign for same?

Stories abound about how X amounts are given to reporters and a different amount written on these attendance sheets as having been received.

As said, the Data Protection Commission has a lot of sensitisation to do.

I am, however, glad that a programme I subsequently covered by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) did not require people attending to sign, though they had to put down telephone numbers.

With that, the protocols of keeping these pieces of information must apply.

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