Nigeria: Data Protection In Nigeria: A Call For A Single Legislative Framework

Last Updated: 29 September 2016
Article by Perchstone & Graeys

There is no doubt that the huge amount of data generated through the electronic systems in the ICT and Telecoms sectors (including the financial sector) creates several unique problems such as storage loss, identity theft, web attacks, unlawful and unauthorized use of personal information, etc. However, the key question is whether there are adequate legal safeguards and framework to protect customers from unauthorized use of personal information, loss of information or fraudulent use of same. Data protection laws exist to strike a balance between the rights of individuals to privacy and the ability of companies to use data for the purposes of their business.

Regrettably, Nigeria does not have a specific or comprehensive data protection Law, comparable to other countries like South Africa, India, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States of America, despite the repeated calls by industry stakeholders for its enactment.

Indeed, the only legislation that provides for the protection of the privacy of Nigerian citizens in general terms is the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). Section 37 of the Constitution provides that: "The privacy of citizens, their houses, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communication is hereby guaranteed and protected".

Other than this constitutional provision, (which in itself is insufficient in terms of details and framework), there is no other legislation that sets out detailed provisions on the protection of privacy in Nigeria.

There are however some industry specific legislations and/or regulations of general application that deal with some aspects of data protection. One such industry-specific regulation is the Consumer Code of Practice Regulations 2007 issued by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). The Regulations provide that all licensees (i.e. the telecoms operators) must take reasonable steps to protect customer's information against "improper or accidental disclosure" and must ensure that such information is securely stored. It also provides that customer's information must "not be transferred to any party except as otherwise permitted or required by other applicable laws or regulations".

In order to protect the data of subscribers of telephone services in Nigeria, the NCC revised and amended the SIM Card Registration Regulation 2010. The amended regulation was cited as "Regulation of Telephone Subscribers Regulation (RTS Regulation) 2011. It represented a wider perspective and afforded some protection of the data collected, collated, retained and managed by the telecommunication companies and independent agents in respect of their obligations to collate and retain data of subscribers under the Regulations.

In 2013, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) published Draft Guidelines on Data Protection (the Guidelines). The Guidelines were the first attempt in Nigeria at establishing a data protection framework of general application. However, since their publication, there has been no indication that the Guidelines have been fully adopted. It is interesting to note that a cursory look at the draft guidelines show that it is not more than it claims to be "draft guidelines" with little or nothing to show legislative authority or thoughtfulness.

Other attempts to fill the vacuum was the passage of the Electronic Transaction Bill in 2015 by the 7th National Assembly, which though contains data protection provisions of general application, falls far short of acceptable minimum standards and does not offer comprehensive data protection when compared with the United Kingdom Data Protection Act, 1998 (DPA) and the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI') enacted by the Republic of South Africa in 2013.

The relevance of a robust data protection legislation cannot be underestimated. It would bring about transparency and accountability in the way and manner the industry operators deal with individual's sensitive data. Thus it would introduce basic rules of registration for users of data and right of access to that data for the individuals to which they are related. Furthermore, it would introduce uniformity and certainty in the country's data protection regime; and this has the tendency of making Nigeria a preferred investment destination in ICT. Interestingly, it would make industry operators to exercise reasonable care when dealing with subscriber's data stored in their database and also ensure they comply at all times with the international minimum data protection standards.

In addition, the absence of a uniform/standard data protection framework may create some level of uncertainty in the procedure required to be followed before a customer's data can be accessed by a third-party (individuals or relevant government institutions, or even foreign institutions). This is particularly so in view of the recent issues surrounding the grant of access rights without the consent of the customer. However, where a definite procedure is provided under the law and reflected in the agreements between service providers and their customers/other service provider's, it becomes easy to either avoid the liability that may arise in such circumstance or properly apportion the risk or liability.

Finally, in light of the recent revolution in Nigeria's ICT Sector, the time is now for Nigeria to have a single and robust Data Protection legislation so as to foster investors' confidence in the industry. It is hoped that the policy makers and industry operators would identify this need and work in concert to propose a brand new Draft Bill on Data Protection to the National Assembly.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.