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Data Breach Alert: Is Your Personal Information Safe?

Introduction

The recent reports of a data breach at the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) have raised serious concerns about data privacy and security in Nigeria. This alleged incident reveals the weaknesses in our current data protection system and the pressing need for stricter enforcement. This article examines the breach, its effect on data privacy, the legal framework under the Nigeria Data Protection Act 2023 (NDPA), and the rights and remedies available to you if your data is breached.

Details of the Alleged Breach

Recently, reports surfaced that unauthorized websites were selling National Identification Numbers (NINs), Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs) and other personal data for as little as ₦100. The Minister of Information, Communication and Digital Economy has announced that investigations into the alleged breach have been launched. Early findings suggest that unauthorized access to the NIMC database allowed these sites to collect and sell personal data, raising serious concerns about the effectiveness of NIMC’s current data protection measures.

Impact on Data Privacy

This alleged exposure of Nigerians’ personal data has wide-ranging effects:

  1. Identity Theft: People whose data has been compromised face a higher risk of identity theft, which can result in financial loss and damage to their reputation.
  2. Financial Fraud: Access to personal data can enable fraudulent financial transactions, negatively affecting the victims’ credit and financial standing
  3. Public Trust: These breaches weaken public confidence in the government’s ability to protect sensitive information, which is crucial for the successful rollout of identification system and other public database systems.

Legal Framework for Data Protection in Nigeria

The Nigerian Data Protection Act (NDPA 2023) is the law that governs the protection of the privacy and personal data of individuals in Nigeria. It must be noted that government agencies, ministries, departments, and other public institutions are also bound by the provisions of the law when handling people’s personal data. The NDPA ensures that both private organizations and public authorities handle this information responsibly and securely. It achieves this through several key mechanisms:

  1. Establishing Rights for Individuals (Data Subjects): The NDPA grants individuals (data subjects) rights over their personal data, such as the right to access, rectify, erase, and object to the processing of their data. This gives individuals more control over their information and its use.

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Tope Adebayo

Senior Partner

Mosun Oke

Partner

Gbenga Samuel Ogundoye

Associate

Practice Key Contacts

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