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FG warns Nigerians against accepting WhatsApp privacy terms

“The National Information Technology Development Agency under Section 6 (f) of the NITDA Act 2007 wishes to provide this advisory to Nigerians to address Nigerian concerns on changes to Whatsapp

• May 18, 2021
Buhari, Mark, and Pantami
President Muhammadu Buhari, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and Minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami

The National Information Technology Development Agency has raised its concerns over messaging app WhatsApp’s privacy policy.

“The National Information Technology Development Agency under Section 6 (f) of the NITDA Act 2007 wishes to provide this advisory to Nigerians to address Nigerian concerns on changes to Whatsapp Terms of Service and Privacy Policy which took effect on May 15, 2021,” it said.

This is contained in the statement released on Monday titled ‘Whatsapp privacy policy changes: Implication for Nigerian users.’ It was signed by the Head of Corporate Affairs and External Relations at the agency, Hadiza Umar.

The statement acknowledged that Whatsapp users were free to decide whether they want to give their consent to the processing of their data based on the new privacy policy.

“The Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) recognises consent (a clear, unambiguous expression of privacy terms communicated by the controller and accepted by the Data Subject) as one of the lawful basis for data processing. Acceptance of the new privacy policy and terms of use implies that user data would now be shared with Facebook and other third parties,” the statement said.

The agency urged Nigerians to explore other messaging platforms beyond Whatsapp and advised that sharing sensitive personal information on private messaging and social media platforms be limited, given WhatsApps affiliation to Facebook and its history with user data sharing. 

The agency added that it would continue engaging with Facebook as they “have given them our opinion on areas to improve compliance with the NDPR. We have also raised concerns as to the marked difference between the privacy standard applicable in Europe, under the GDPR and the rest of the world.”

Since 2016, WhatsApp’s privacy policies have permitted the application to share metadata such as user phone numbers, device information, and location, among others, with Facebook involved in legal tussles over privacy concerns. 

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