Nigeria: NITDA Investigates Truecaller Over Alleged Privacy Rights Breach

24 September 2019

The National Information Technology Agency (NITDA) has commenced investigation of Truecaller services over alleged breach of privacy rights of Nigerians.

A statement by its chief executive and director-general, Kashifu Inuwa, made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday said NITDA, the agency empowered by its enabling Act to render advisory services in all information technology matters to the public and private sectors, is investigating some policies of the organisation which has the potential to breach the privacy of subscribers.

"Initial findings revealed that the Truecaller Privacy Policy is not in compliance with global laws on data protection and the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) in particular.The findings also revealed that there are over 7 million Nigerians who are active users of the service, hence the need to enlighten the public on some of the areas of non-compliance as well as guide those affected.

"The Truecaller Privacy Policy, available on Privacy Policy - Truecaller is made of two sets - one for those in the European Economic Area (EEA) and the other for those outside the EEA. Nigeria falls under the second category. Furthermore, every Nigerian user is contracting with Truecaller India. There are marked differences between both policies. Critical assessment of the policy revealed non-compliance with the NDPR," it said.

Citing some examples of many illegitimate provisions found in the Truecaller Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, the statement said its implications were far-reaching.

"The provisions of the policy can be exploited to put many Nigerians in unsavoury conditions. In view of this, we urge all Nigerians to take advantage of Article 4 of the Truecaller Privacy Policy which provides - "If any persons do not wish to have their names and phone numbers made available through the Enhanced Search or Name Search functionalities, they can exclude themselves from further queries by notifying Truecaller via its website or as set forth in the contact details below" Members of the public may also decide to delist themselves from the Truecaller Service completely.

"NITDA would like to assure Nigerians that it will continue to monitor the activities of digital service providers with a view to ensuring that the rights of Nigerians are not unduly breached while also improving the operational environment to support ethical players in their bid to get maximum benefit from Nigeria," it added.

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