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Local, International Companies Secretly Trading Citizens’ Data — Pantami

Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, says many companies are illegally trading citizens’ information.

Pantami said this on Saturday at a media conference organised by the ministry of communications and digital economy, in partnership with the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB), to mark the ‘National Privacy Week’.

Speaking on the need to regulate privacy in the country, the minister said organisations that have breached citizens’ information have been sanctioned.

He added that an absence of a compliance framework and law would compromise national security and have ripple effects globally.

“So far, banks have been sanctioned, operators in our sector have been sanctioned, and many more of them are being investigated to ensure that we improve in level of compliance,” Pantami said.

“In addition, if you look at it, the quantity of data that is being generated today, if there is no data privacy compliance in place, definitely it will compromise global security.

“If you have a mobile phone, you’ll discover that with some applications, if care is not taken, the information the controllers of these gadgets have about you, you don’t even know it. They know more about you than you know about yourselves.

“For example, in three years, an application could remind you about all your movements, the images you have captured, who you have been with. Meanwhile, you have forgotten about it.

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“Definitely, they know us more than we know ourselves. All your activities are being recorded as long as you have one [mobile device] and carry it about. There is nothing like confidentiality or privacy, that is the reality.

“With our situation today, local and international companies are illegally and secretly commercialising citizens’ data without their knowledge.

“Go to ordinary Google and search something once or twice. From that day, you’ll begin to have reminders and recommendations about whatever you had searched earlier. They know because they save that information from what you have searched before.

“So, it is because of this, without doubt, that we must ensure that we work together to ensure that whatever they collect about us, they have no power to either commercialise or submit to any place illegally, because if not, definitely our security, our privacy, and everything about us will be open.”

‘EXCESS DATA GENERATION LEAVING CITIZENS EXPOSED’

Pantami also expressed concern about the quantity of data being generated in the cyber space.

“The quantity of data that is being generated is another issue that we should all be worried about,” he said.

“If you look at a research conducted by Google, they said from the dawn of civilisation, up to 2003 — 20 years ago — the entire data collected globally was only 5 exabytes of data.

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“By implication, from dawn of civilisation to 2003, approximately 5,000 years, only 5 exabytes of data was generated. But today, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), after every 24 hours, 2.5 exabytes of data is generated.

“So by implication, the data being generated today within 48 hours can be equated to the quantity of data generated previously within 5,000 years.

“According to the IDC, by 2025, that is the next two years, with the invention of IOT devices, we could have about 41.6 billion IOT interconnected devices globally.

“By implication, 46.1 billion is more than four times the world population, and these devices will generate data of 76.4 zettabytes.

“And this is just by 2025. So, what do you think will happen to us if we don’t have an institution to ensure compliance to privacy laws?”

January 28 is celebrated annually globally as ‘Data Privacy Day’ to raise awareness about the significance of protecting data, fostering trust, and respecting privacy.
Source: Cable

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