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Monday, July 15, 2024

Paradigm Initiative uncovers website selling personal data of Nigerians

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Paradigm Initiative has uncovered a website that sells personal data of Nigerians illegally online

In a post titled “Major Data Breach: Sensitive Government Data of Nigerian Citizens Available Online for Just 100 Naira” on Thursday, the Paradigm Initiative said the disturbing incident was a major violation of fundamental privacy rights.

According to the digital hub, AnyVerify.com.ng distributes personal and private data of Nigerians under the guise of providing verification services.

He highlighted that a violation of data privacy rights posed risks to people and the economy.

According to Paradigm Initiative, the website claims to verify data such as National Identity Number (NIN), Bank Verification Number (BVN), Driving License, International Passport, Tax Identification Number (TIN), Identification Card Permanent Voter (PVC) and telephone numbers. , among others.

However, “all of these are sold by this website to any interested party for the sum of N100.00 for each data request,” according to the report.

“Due to the serious implications for millions of Nigerians, through our legal partners, Vindich Legal, we have sent a prior action notice to the following government agencies: National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Data Protection Commission of Nigeria (NDPC), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF),” the report adds.

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This is not the first time that a private website has been linked to the illicit sale of data of Nigerians. In March this year, an online media outlet, the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, published an investigative article detailing how XpressVerify, a private website, accesses data of Nigerians for personal gain.

The IJF found that the website had access to the National Identification Number (NIN) and personal details of every registered Nigerian, and for as little as N200, anyone could access details such as phone numbers, NIN, address and even photographs.

Violation of data laws

The 1999 Constitution (as amended) recognizes privacy as a fundamental human right and guarantees the protection of citizens, their homes, their correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications. This gave rise to the enactment of the Nigerian Data Protection Act, 2023 and the establishment of the Nigerian Data Protection Commission.

Among other things, the commission is responsible for regulating the deployment of technology and organizational measures to facilitate data protection.

READ ALSO: EFCC and ICPC warn Nigerians to protect data against cybercrimes

The Act provides guidelines on the management of personal data to government institutions and agencies such as the National Identity Management Commission, which manages the national database of Nigerians.

Section 26(1) of the National Identity Management Commission Act 2007 makes it illegal for the commission to provide information of Nigerians contained in the database except for reasons affecting national security.

“No natural or legal person shall have access to the data or information contained in the Database with respect to an individual registered entry except with the authorization of the Commission and only if: (a) a request for the provision of the information to that person is made by or with the authority of that individual; or (b) that individual consents to the provision of that information to that person,” the law states.

“When these regulations are breached, citizens’ privacy, economic stability, personal security and financial security are put at risk,” explained Adedeji Adedoyin.

“As more people rely on online services for their daily activities, they do so with confidence that the administrators behind these online services will do everything possible to protect their personal information from illegal exposure and personal risk. But as we have seen over time, these companies and government agencies are not doing enough to implement measures to prevent the exposure and sale of private data, which has unfortunately led to personal and financial losses,” he added.

Paradigm Initiative is a social enterprise that builds information and communications technology (ICT)-based support systems and advocates for digital rights to improve the livelihoods of underserved youth.

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