Home News Digital Colonialism: Nigeria issues advisory on new WhatsApp privacy policy

Digital Colonialism: Nigeria issues advisory on new WhatsApp privacy policy

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By Chrystal NK Chukwudebe

TUE 18 MAY, 2021-theGBJournal- The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is getting ahead to address Nigerians concerns on changes to WhatsApp Terms of Service and Privacy Policy which took effect on 15h May, 2021.

The agency today issued an advisory to Nigerians using the WhatsApp platform for business, social, educational, other purposes while expressing its reservations to the policy as it applies to users outside the European Union including Nigeria. WhatsApp which first shared the reviewed Privacy Policy on 4th January, 2021 to users outside the European Union, is the social media platform of choice for many Nigerians.

The Advisory follows NITDA and African Network of Data Protection Authorities engagement with Facebook Incorporated, the owners of WhatsApp platform-specifically, it’s global Policy officials on 9th April 2021.

According to NITDA, the Facebook team confirmed that private messages shared on WhatsApp consumer version are encrypted and not seen by the company. But the metadata (data about the usage of the service) which is also personal information is shared with other members of the Facebook Group.

NITDA noted that WhatsApp users are at liberty to decide on giving consent to the processing of their data based on the new policy.

The Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) recognises consent (a clear, unambiguous expression of privacy terms communicated by the controller and accepted by the Data subject) as one of the lawful basis for data processing.

‘’Acceptance of the new policy and terms of use implies that user data would now be shared with Facebook and other third parties. Users will now be subject to the terms and policies of Facebook and other receiving entities with or without being direct subscribers to such services,’’ NITDA noted.

It is against this backdrop that NIDTA issued the advisory as follows:

1-Nigerians may wish to note that there are other available platforms with similar functionalities which they may wish to explore. Choice of platform should consider data sharing practices, privacy, ease of use among others, and

2-Limit the sharing of sensitive personal information on private messaging and social media platform as the initial promise of privacy and security is now being overridden on issues of business exigency.

NITDA said Nigeria’s engagement with Facebook continues.

‘’We have given them our opinion on areas o improve compliance with he NDPR. We have also raised concerns as to the marked difference between the privacy standard applicable in Europe, under the GDPR and the rest of the world. NITDA  with stakeholders is exploring all options to ensure Nigerians do not become victims of digital colonialism’’ NITDA said.

According to NITDA, ‘’our national security, dignity and individual privacy are cherished considerations we must not lose.’’

The agency said it will work with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to organise a hackathon for Nigerians to pitch solutions that can provide services that will provide functional alterations to the existing global social platforms.

WhatsApp collects the following information on users

-Account Information

-Messages (including undelivered messages, media forwading)

-Connections

-Status Information

-Transaction and Payment data

-usage and log information

-Location information, and

-Cookies etc.

WhatsApp also shares with Facebook

-personal account registration information,

-details on how users interacts with others,

-mobile device information, and

-internet protocol address and location data.

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