Sim registration in Abuja. Credits: ScanNewsNigeria

A global consumer organization has raised privacy concerns over Nigeria’s SIM card registration laws.

British organization Comparitech, which uses tools and information to compare technology services across the world, raised these concerns in its latest report on governments imposing SIM registration laws on citizens.

Comparitech claims Nigeria’s SIM registration process is invasive, uniting Nigeria alongside countries like Bahrain and Bangladesh.

SIM registration in Nigeria started in April 2010 after a directive from the Communication Commission of Nigeria. To register, subscribers provide personal information and undergo biometric scans.

Anywhere else in the world, these stipulations would trigger data protection and privacy concerns.

But in Nigeria personal data is not a problem for the average citizen. It’s understandable when you consider that Nigeria’s internet penetration rate in 2018 was 47.1%.

Mobile telephony was introduced in Nigeria in 2000 and it took the country seven years to pass an Act of Parliament creating the NITDA.

NITDA is a public institution governing data regulation in Nigeria.

What are the privacy issues with SIM card registration?

“The creation of a database of citizens and their mobile phone numbers restricts private communications, increases the potential for tracking and surveillance, allows governments to create detailed profiles of their citizens and risks private data falling. in the wrong hands, ”Comparitech wrote.

Nigeria’s MIS registration processes are cause for concern. First, the NCC can keep the stored data for three years. In addition, it can share this data with security agencies and imprison subscribers who do not register their SIM cards.

In many countries, collecting information about customers allows government agencies to spy on citizens. They can also block citizens’ access to information.

In Uganda, the government imposes a social media tax before its citizens can access Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Government implications Internet shutdowns are also common across Africa.

These are the types of privacy concerns that should be of concern to everyone.

Possible data abuse

Beyond censorship, another concern is the possibility of your personal data falling into the wrong hands.

“Disclosure of personal information to security guards must comply with the provisions of the Act and with any directive or instrument issued from time to time by the Commission. Licensees must not disclose personal information to third parties without obtaining the prior written consent of the affected subscriber. For the purposes of this paragraph 5, the term “third party” excludes the security guard as defined in these regulations. “

  • Telephone Subscriber Registration Regulation (2011)

This possibility of abuse of access is real. Anthony Okolie, a private citizen spent time in prison for allegedly buying a SIM card which once belonged to the president’s daughter.

Okolie’s detention indicates a lack of framework or legislation to deal with the real threat of identity theft.

Comparitech argues that “without laws protecting registration data, personal data could be shared with third parties. These can include advertisers, other governments or tax collection agencies, for example. This puts the data at a higher risk of theft and abuse. “

See also: In search of quick loans, Nigerians give up their privacy


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