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New Nigerian data protection body calls for stronger privacy standards to drive digital ID

New Nigerian data protection body calls for stronger privacy standards to drive digital ID

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has been called upon by Nigeria’s new data privacy authority to set high standards for data protection and privacy as one of the ways of strengthening the country’s digital ID ecosystem.

Punch reports that the call was made recently by Dr. Vincent Olatunji, the National Commissioner of the newly-created Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB), during a working visit to the NIMC headquarters.

The NDPB was officially launched on April 11.

Speaking through a statement quoted by Punch, Olatunji underlined the importance of data protection and privacy to the growth and development of Nigeria’s digital economy, saying there cannot be a proper digital identity landscape without sufficient safeguards for data protection and privacy.

“The commission (NIMC) which is the highest data controller in the country should be a model for other data controllers since data is the foundation of everything in the country’s digital economy. There is nothing you would want to do in the digital economy without proper identity and you can’t achieve that without adequate privacy and protection of data,” a portion of the statement quoted by Punch reads.

Meanwhile, Olatunji, in a separate visit to the premises of the Nigeria Digital Identity for Development project (ID4D), raised similar concerns, expressing the wish to see the putting in place of a harmonized National Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) framework, as reported by Independent.

According to the NDPB National Commissioner, the ID4D project has been doing a great job in coordinating Nigeria’s digital economy drive. Nigeria’s digital ID scheme, recall, is partly funded through the ID4D facility of the World Bank, as well as other financing from the European Investment Bank and the French Development Agency (AFD).

Olatunji explained that the NDPB is already engaging with relevant stakeholders on the drafting of the data protection regulation, which he believes, if well worked on, will make the legal instrument robust and more accepted.

“After the drafting of the bill, we will need to engage stakeholders and make them see it as their own because they are making important contributions to whatever we are doing. We are already mobilizing them to get them ready for the bill that is coming,” Olatunji was quoted as saying.

Efforts have been on to get a Data Protection Regulation in place in Nigeria since 2018, but a move by the federal government last year to abandon an old draft of the text triggered anger in some quarters.

54 million bank IDs issued

About 2.3 million Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs) were issued in Nigeria in the last three months, bringing the total number of biometric enrollments for the bank IDs to 54 million, as of April 10, New Telegraph writes.

Quoting data released by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), the outlet mentions that the figure is up from 51.7 million BVNs reported at the close of December 2021.

With 54 million BVNs, officials say the gap between the bank IDs and the number of existing bank accounts remains wide. NIBSS has highlighted the importance of the IDs as a way of protecting bank accounts from unauthorized access.

The BVN is a unique identification number issued to bank account holders, with which they can be identified across the Nigerian banking environment.

There have been talks in the past about integrating the bank IDs with national digital ID numbers (NINs).

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