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Thursday, June 29, 2023

Zenith, GTB, Fidelity, others under investigation for alleged data breach - NDPC

The Nigeria Data Protection Commission (NDPC) says it is currently investigating 3 deposit money banks, one university and other suspects over alleged data breach.

The commission listed Zenith, Fidelity, Guarantee Trust Banks, Babcock University and Leadway Insurance, among others for the suspected infraction.

According to a statement issued by the commission’s Head of Media, Mr. Itunu Dosekun, on Thursday in Abuja, this was made known by the National Commissioner of NDPC, Dr Vincent Olatunji.

Unlawful data processing complaints

Olatunji said the investigation of these organizations came following complaints from data subjects, explaining that with the new Nigerian Data Protection Act (NDPA), the commission had been empowered with a legal framework to address issues of citizens’ data breach.

He said, “In the last few weeks, the NDPC has received complaints bothering on unlawful data processing, unauthorised access to personal data and violation of data subjects’ rights.

“Under Part 10 of the newly-signed NDPA Act 2023, a data controller with a turnover of N200 billion yearly may pay as high as N2 billion, which represents two percent of the gross revenue.

“Not only that, offenders also risk up to one-year jail term.

“We are currently investigating Guarantee Trust Bank, Fidelity, Unity, Zenith banks, Leadway Insurance and Babcock University, among others, for data breach.’’

Online money-lending banks to seek clearance from NDPC

Olatunji said that many micro-finance banks are yet to align their operations with the requirements of data privacy and protection.

He further revealed that loaning organizations would face the law with the new mandate of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC).

Olatunji said the mandate required loan organizations t seek compliance and clearance from NDPC before granting approval to online lenders.

The NDPC National Commissioner said,

“The commission is investigating over 400 complaints in the online lending sector.

“Soko Loan is already working on a come back to the digital lending market, but yet to be approved.’’

He, however, said that the commission was engaging in serious sensitisation exercise to ensure that data controllers understood the implications of data breaches, noting that it prioritizes awareness more than the scorched earth enforcement process.

What you should know

Recall that on June 14, 2023, President Bola Tinubu had assented to the passage of the Nigeria Data Protection Bill, 2023 into law.

The Nigeria Data Protection Bill which had been proposed by former President Muhammadu Buhari a few months back seeks to provide a legal framework for the protection of personal information and the practice of data protection in Nigeria.

It also establishes the Nigeria Data Protection Commission headed which will be headed by a National Commissioner with the responsibility of regulating the processing of personal information.

In a related development, the Federal Government had on March 11, 2022, through its joint committee investigating rights violations and unfair practices shut down some illegal online money-lending banks for not registering with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and engaging in activities against the rights of Nigerian consumers.

These online banks charged interest rates that violate the ethics of how lending is done and were involved in naming and shaming which is a violation of people’s privacy concerning how these lenders recover loans, among other violations.

The FCCPC had issued a regulatory and registration framework for digital lending as they worked on a more comprehensive framework to guide the operations of digital lenders in Nigeria.

The 2 major issues the FCCPC sought to address with this framework are unethical interest rates and violation of consumer privacy and other unethical lending practices perpetrated by unchecked digital lenders.


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