An Analysis of the Data Privacy and Protection Laws in Nigeria

By Emeka Ekweozor /13 Jul 2020
10 min.
Worthwhile read for: Law

Data protection and reliability are top priority issues in this digital age. With the advent of new technologies, the need to protect one’s privacy is becoming of ever greater importance. The advent of information technology has created an environment where personal and organizational data can easily be assessed by anyone if they are not properly protected . Besides, the undeniable fact that people’s lives are now becoming woven around continuous exchange of information, and streams of data, means that data protection is gaining importance and moving to the center of the political and institutional system . Thus, most countries have taken a stance on data protection in order to enforce laws, prevent crime and adopt in diplomatic relationship . Moreover, the fundamental right to protection of personal data is recognized at the universal level in various human rights instruments adopted under the aegis of the UN , mostly as an extension of the right to privacy. It is an inalienable human right also guaranteed by the Nigerian. However, the growing subscription of customers to online services offered by the financial, trading and telecommunications companies in Nigeria, as well as the increasing rate of identity theft and other cyber misdemeanors have necessitated the need for data protection legislation that aligned to international standards.


According to the Section 1.3 of the Nigerian Data Protection Regulation, 20196
“Data” means characters, symbols and binary on which operations are performed by a computer. Which may be stored or transmitted in the form of electronic signals is stored in any format or any device;) “Database” means a collection of data organized in a manner that allows access, retrieval, deletion and procession of that data; it includes but not limited to structured, unstructured, cached and file system type databases;

“Personal Data” means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person; It can be anything from a name, address, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, and other unique identifier such as but not limited to MAC address, IP address, IMEI number, IMSI number, SIM and others; “Personal Data breach” means a breach of security leading to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorised disclosure of, or access to, personal data transmitted, stored or otherwise processed;

Data protection is commonly defined7 as the law designed to protect your personal data. In modern societies, in order to empower us to control our data and to protect us from abuses, it is essential that data protection laws restrain and shape the activities of companies and governments. These institutions have shown repeatedly that unless rules restricting their actions are in place, they will endeavour to collect it all, mine it all, keep it all, share it with others, while telling us nothing at all. There is presently no specific or comprehensive data privacy or protection law in Nigeria.8 The only legislation that provides for the protection of the privacy of Nigerian citizens in general terms is the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Promulgation) Act.9 Section 37 of the Constitution provides that:

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Emeka Ekweozor
Emeka Ekweozor Esq is an astute ligitation lawyer called to the BAR in 2016. He hold an L.L.B (HONS) from the Anambra State University and is currently an L.L.M candidate from the University of Lagos.

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