Dearth of Principal Legislations on Data Protection: the legal regime of Nigeria is a sloppy terrain. There exist no comprehensive legislations that have entrenched some provisions for transferring, producing, transmitting and processing data in Nigeria. This loophole is a major setback to building a solid regime for the use of data in the business environment, governance space and the general public. More uninteresting is the fact that the available related laws are not comprehensively designed enough to cover for the loopholes that have been created by absence of a principal legislation for data protection in Nigeria.
Identity Theft: there is this habitual case of identity theft very prevalent in the Nigeria’s business community. This is very common among internet and communication service providers. We have many cases where personal information of subscribers would be released to security enforcement agencies without earning authorized consent from the owners. Also prevalent is the carefree approach government agencies attach to personal information of the citizens. Many files (containing confidential information) have been lost in the past to this unwholesome attitude. The advent of information technology has contributed to this worrisome menace. Some daredevil criminally minded persons often resort to the use of sophisticated technologies to have access to personal information of others and stealing their identity in the process.
Insufficient Judicial Authorities on Data Protection: owing to the dearth of comprehensive legislations that principally cover the scope of data protection in Nigeria, there is this corresponding insufficiency of judicial authorities to rely upon – for data infringement matters. This surfacing loophole has hitherto put Nigerian judges and lawyers at a crossroad of stagnancy as there are practically no appellate decided cases that directly touched data protection, illegal use of information or data privacy invasion.
Enforcement Issues: where there is no specific statutory solution to an emerging social concern, enforcement becomes an issue. There are several cases of data privacy invasion that were left unattended to couple with the fact that the Nigerian constituted authority have not made any conscious efforts to challenge this. More unsalutary is the neglects that are often paid to right issues in Nigeria. The country is generally not rights friendly to her common citizens.
Limited Coverage on Privacy Rights: S.37 of the 1999 Constitution, which provides for right to private and family life, is not an omnibus provision. It was not designed to cover the right of non-citizens of Nigeria, which is deemed very detrimental to the foreign investment prospects of Nigeria. For a country that directly or indirectly relies on foreign investments for its economic expansion and transformational growth, absence of enough guarantees for the privacy rights of foreign investors, diplomats and expatriates is one step backward to real development.
Ignorance and Low Exposure: ignorance is another factor militating against data protection awareness in Nigeria. About 85% of Nigerians are not even aware of the rights that are attached to the use of their personal information, confidential information and data. The attendant low exposure is largely responsible for the relatively low prosecution rate of perpetrators of data privacy related crimes and offences.
Ali Toyin Smart,
YBA & CO SOLICITORS