Increasing technology adoption begs for enforcement of data protection law


IFE OGUNFUWA examines the need for the application of data privacy and protection law as technology continues to disrupt industries and data gathering and analytics deepen
Indeed, technology is disrupting traditional methods in various sectors of the economy and delivering measurable impact to people.
Experts in the country have attested to the impact of technology on business operations, productivity and in the delivery of cost savings to organisations.
In the financial services sector, fintechs are disrupting payments, making it easy for people irrespective of location and status to receive or make payments electronically.
Technology is definitely breaking down barriers and removing the bottlenecks involved in accessing government services; offering various platforms for communication and helping people to make timely business decisions.
Speaking on the social and economic value of data and technology, the Executive Director, Systemspecs, Remi Atanda, argued that the impact of technology on a business was the real value that should be considered when investing in technology.
He said, “Digital is a combination of many things. It is about the impact technology makes through the combination of web, mobile, social and video. If you look at all those things; in themselves, they look ordinary but when you combine them and the power they deliver, then you know it is a different thing entirely.
“Technology is no longer measured by the investment in the technology but by the impact of the investment. It is not about how much I have spent but how much I am able to get out of it. The people are no longer buying computer and servers alone; they are making leaner investment and greater impact.
In the business landscape, many are not taking advantage of the opportunities that digital presents; maybe because many are still stuck in the traditional ways of doing things.”
Despite the benefits of emerging technologies, experts say threats to security and privacy of individuals, government and private organisations will thrive.
While announcing the plans of the government to deploy 5G network by 2020, the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof Umar Danbatta, said threats to security and privacy would increase.
As such, he said the commission would develop policies that would address existing and new threats.
Danbatta said, “There are additional regulations that will be required, especially regulations on security and privacy because there are challenges associated with 5G.
“There are challenges that will make people to hesitate about patronising the services driven by technology especially issues of social vices, security and privacy. The same challenges we are struggling to contain will multiply when we embrace 5G services.
“When we have a new technology, we don’t need to wait very long to see the negative side of that technology manifesting; it is the same with 5G. We have seen the level of financial fraud in the country go up.
“We have seen how hate speeches, anonymous, inflammatory and at times derogatory, are going to unbelievable levels. These will fade in proportion to what we are going to see with 5G services. So we need to get ready.”
In the developed countries, a breach in data privacy laws landed prominent organisation fines and prosecution and business reputation as can be seen in the case of Facebook.
However, in Nigeria and most developing countries, experts note that people’s personal data are often passed to third parties without their consent.
According to them, not much is being said about the protection of data gathered during the use of technology.
An Information Technology expert, Mrs Titilola Akinlade, said the input of the government, ICT regulatory agencies, security agencies, local and international businesses operating in Nigeria, human rights advocates, academia in the relevant fields, legal luminaries, trade unions and individuals should be sought when drafting a data protection law.
She noted that the data privacy and protection law contained in the Nigerian Constitution, NCC’s Consumer Code of Practice Regulations 2007, the National Information Technology Development Agency’s Draft Guidelines on Data Protection and the Child’s Right Act, were often breached.
Akinlade noted that the telecoms regulator overreached the number of information collected during SIM card registration as most were not needed, providing avenues for information breach.
“The NCC’s code of conduct is often breached. If it is enforced, it not only protects Nigerians, but everyone with a Nigerian SIM card. Network operators collect local government information during SIM registration but the information is not used to improve their local government,” she said.
According to her, the country urgently needs data protection regulation that ensures that people’s personal information is used accurately, fairly and lawfully for limited, specifically stated purposes, in a way that is adequate and relevant.