Data Privacy and Protection

Background

Tolu’s media house needs to open a new location before the year runs out. The real estate agent requests for personal documents like bank statements, utility bill payments, work id

Tolu’s media house needs to open a new location before the year runs out. The real estate agent requests for personal documents like bank statements, utility bill payments, work id amongst other documents. Tolu is hesitant but in an act of desperation, she sends everything to him. Unfortunately, the building was given to another bidder and the agent still has her details which could be used for illegal acts.

Data Privacy & Protection: What must I know?

Individuals, as citizens and consumers need to have the means to exercise their right to privacy and protect themselves and their information from abuse. This is particularly the case when it comes to our personal information. Data protection is about safeguarding our fundamental right to privacy, within the local and international laws. Data protection is commonly defined as the law designed to protect your personal information, which is collected, processed and stored by “automated” means or intended to be part of a filing system. In modern societies, to empower us to control our information and to protect us from abuses, it is essential that data protection laws restrain and shape the activities of companies and governments. These institutions have shown repeatedly that unless rules restrict their actions, they will endeavor to collect it all, mine it all, keep it all, while telling us nothing at all.

Why is data privacy & protection important?

Every time you use a service like buying a product online, signing up to a social platform, purchase of a new phone line,hospital checkups, opening a new bank account or closing in a new contract or service request, you have to hand over some personal information. Most of the times, even without your knowledge information about you is being generated and captured by companies and agencies you are likely to have never knowingly interacted with. The only way citizens and consumers can have confidence in companies, the government and other businesses is through a strong data privacy and protection practice, which helps minimize needleless monitoring by officialdom and regulate surveillance by companies.

In Nigeria, there is no known law and policy that caters for the data privacy and protection of its citizens. However, it is your right to know if the data being held by a service provider, organization, agency or individuals are factually correct, available to only credible entities, and only used for its stated purpose.

Some Questions to Ask about Data Privacy & Protection

  1.     When is it legal for someone to ask for data about you?
  2.     What are some of the obligations of people who control your data?
  3.     Exceptions of data protection rule(government and federal security agencies with license).
  4.     How to stop automated collection of data (social media)
  5.     How to make a complaint if someone violates your data privacy.

Unknown to many Nigerians (both individual and a few corporate entities) industry specific regulations, rules of professional conduct and case law exists which provide privacy related protections for Nigerian citizens. These are examined below;

  • Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which is the body charged with the regulation of the communications industry in Nigeria.  The NCC code provides that all licensees (all Telecommunication service providers) must take reasonable steps to protect customer information against “improper or accidental disclosure” and must ensure that such information is securely stored. It also provides further that customer information must “not be transferred to any party except as otherwise permitted or required by other applicable laws or regulations”
  • Notably, Section 2.1(2) of the NITDA guidelines recommend that processing of all data collected shall not take place without the consent of the data subject i.e. The Nigerian Citizen so concerned.

What are some of my Data and Privacy Rights?

  1. Right to have your data used in line with data protection regulations. (Fair use of information, used for lawful purposes, keep information safe, accurate and up-to-date, relevant, give you a copy of information when needed).
  2. Right to Information about your personal details: If for any reason your information needs to be transferred to another organization the company must provide details of that organization and reasons why they need it.
  3. Right to remove your personal details if you feel they are not accurate or have no reason for being used.
  4. Right to remove your details from a direct marketing list(SMS): You can do this by sending an email to the organization and following up if you don’t get a response.
  5. Right to Refuse direct marketing messages: The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has provided an option to stop unsolicited marketing messages by using the Do-Not-Disturb short message code (text STOP to 2442 or HELP to 2442)
  6. Right to request personal details and images of you used on a website, blog, or social platform without your consent be taken down.

How do I Protect my Personal Data?

To know how best you can protect your personal information we have listed some some tips below but for a more detailed step visit here.

  1. Give accurate information, recheck forms for errors.
  2. Don’t give away too much details: It’s okay to skip or withhold some information (your service provider, or the pharmacy down the road does not need to have every detail on their record, just the basics. If you feel they are asking for too much move on to the next question). 
  3. Before you share information at your workplace, service provider company, your child’s school, or a doctor’s office, ask why they need it, how they will safeguard it, and the consequences of not sharing.