Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, minister of Communications and Digital Economy, has urged the Nigerian Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) to investigate banks and data-processing firms on data privacy and protection compliance.
The minister, said, “Banks have been sanctioned. Operators in our sector have been sanctioned. Many more operators are being investigated today. So, continue investigating. To ensure that we improve in that level of compliance is very important.”
He stated at the weekend in Abuja, at a press conference, to kick off National Privacy Week 2023,
Pantami also asked Nigerians to report any data breach to the NDPB so that a proper investigation can be done.
He said, “Whenever we see any breach of data, let us confidentially draw the attention of the Bureau to go and investigate. By doing that, we will play a significant role.”
He also noted that the bureau has a portal to receive any complaints about a data privacy breach.
The minister added, “In addition, if you look at it, the quantity of data that is being generated today, if there is no data privacy compliance in place, definitely it will compromise global security. If you have a mobile phone, you’ll discover that with some applications, if care is not taken, the information the controllers of these gadgets have about you, you don’t even know it. They know more about you than you know about yourselves.
“With our situation today, local and international companies are illegally and secretly commercialising citizens’ data without their knowledge.
“So, it is because of this, without doubt, that we must ensure that we work together to ensure that whatever they collect about us, they have no power to either commercialise or submit to any place illegally, because if not, definitely our security, our privacy, and everything about us will be open.”
The minister further noted that the value of data in Nigeria is about N5.5bn.
He also stressed the need for principal legislation for data protection in the country.
He said, “The law about data protection is not in any way to punish our citizens, but rather to create awareness so that we will all be data compliant.
“That is why it is important. We are urged to comply, and today because of awareness creation, reaching out to other institutions, sanctions and interrogating others, you will discover that the compliance rate is going higher.”
He added that the introduction of data protection law will boost the confidence of foreign investors in the nation’s economy and propels them to do business in Nigeria.
The minister also said that Nigeria is the first African country to join the developed countries in celebrating international data privacy day.
Dr Vincent Olatunji, national commissioner of NDPB, said the aim of the privacy week was to sensitise people and disseminate privacy practices and principles across society.
Olatunji said the commission, born out of the National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) was to encourage everyone to own up to their responsibilities in order to bring about a culture of privacy.
The Federal Executive Council last week approved the transmission of the National Data Protection Bill to the National Assembly as an Executive Bill through the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation.