NITDA Fines Online Loan Firm N10m For Privacy Invasion - 9japarrot


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Wednesday 18 August 2021

NITDA Fines Online Loan Firm N10m For Privacy Invasion

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has sanctioned an online lending platform, Soko Lending Company Limited (Soko Loans), for privacy invasion.

NITDA’s spokesperson Hadiza Umar who disclosed in Abuja on  Tuesday said Soko Loans was suspended after  NITDA received series of complaints against the company for unauthorized disclosures, failure to protect customers’ personal data and defamation of character.

Umar said the company also failed necessary due diligence enshrined in the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) as carried out by NITDA.

“One of such complaints filed by Bloomgate Solicitors on behalf of its client, the data subject, was received on Monday, 11th November 2019. NITDA, as part of its due diligence process, commenced investigation over the alleged infractions of the provisions of the NDPR,” she said.

The NITDA spokesperson said Soko Loans grants its customers uncollateralised loans and requires a loanee to download its mobile application on their phone and activate a direct debit in the company’s favour.

This enables the app to gain access to the loanee’s phone contacts, Umar said.

She said: “According to one of the complainants, when he failed to meet up with his repayment obligations due to insufficient credit in his account on the date the direct debit was to take effect, the company unilaterally sent privacy invading messages to the complainant’s contacts.”

She said investigation revealed that complainants’ contacts who were neither parties to the loan transaction nor consented to the processing of their data have confirmed the receipt of such messages.

She added that the agency made strident efforts to get Soko Loan to change the unethical practice but to no avail.

“After the agency’s investigation team secured a lien order on one of the company’s accounts by which it could come up with privacy-enhancing solutions for its business model, Soko Loan decided to rebrand and directs its customers to pay into its other business accounts,” she said.

Umar said the agency’s investigation further revealed that the company embeds trackers that share data with third parties inside its mobile application without providing users information about it or using the appropriate lawful basis.

She said in view of the foregoing and in consideration of its implication on the privacy of Nigerians and erosion of trust in the digital economy, NITDA has imposed a monetary sanction of N10million on Soko Lending Company Limited

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