The definition of data is extensive and contains all available information concerning individuals and corporations. The advent of information technology has quadrupled the amount of information available. Necessarily, governments of the world are promulgating data protection legislation to regulate the processing of data and to safeguard information of persons. The Nigerian experience has been slow and steady.

In the beginning, there was no comprehensive law for data protection. However, the privacy of persons is protected by Section 37 of the  Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which guarantees the privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondences, telephone conversations and telegraphic materials. Specifically, the rights of children are protected by the Child Rights Act No. 26 of 2003. Section 8 of the Act guarantees every child’s right to privacy. Section 205(2) protects the records of child offenders.

Regulatory Framework

There have been specific laws that have contained snippets of data protection. For instance, the Freedom of Information Act No. 4 of 2011. This Act actually provides for public access to public records. Still, it prevents a public institution from disclosing personal information to the public unless the concerned individual consents to such disclosure.[1] It also provides that a public institution may refuse to disclose information that enjoys professional privilege (lawyer-client privilege, for instance).[2]

The National Identity Management Commission Act of 2007 establishes a Commission. This Commission is responsible for operating a National Identity Database. The Act provides that no person or company shall have access to data or information contained in the database with respect to a registered individual without authorization. The Commission is only authorized to share such information if it is in the interest of national security.

The Consumer Code of Practice Regulations was issued by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 2007. It requires telecommunication operators to take reasonable steps to protect consumer information against… click this link to continue reading.