The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has sanctioned an online lending platform, Soko Lending Company Ltd.
, (Soko Loans), for data privacy invasion.
Mrs Hadiza Umar, Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations of NITDA, said this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
Umar said the action was taken following series of complaints against the company for unauthorised disclosures, failure to protect customers’ personal data, defamation of character and violating the provisions of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR).
According to her, one of such complaints filed by Bloomgate Solicitors on behalf of its client, the data subject, was received on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, which prompted the agency to investigate the claims.
Umar explained that Soko Loans granted its customers uncollateralised loans which required a loanee to download its mobile application on the phone and activate a direct debit in the company’s favour.
“In such manner, the application gains access to the loanee’s phone contacts,” she said.
She 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.
“NITDA has, therefore, found Soko Loan and its entities in violation of use of non-conforming privacy notice, contrary to the content of the NDPR, insufficient lawful basis for processing personal data, contrary to Articles 2.2 and 2.3 of the NDPR.”
It said the company was involved in “illegal data sharing without appropriate lawful basis, contrary to Article 2.2 of the NDPR, unwillingness to cooperate with the Data Protection Authority, contrary to Article 3.1 (1) of Data Protection Implementation Framework and non-filing of NDPR audit reports through a licensed Data Protection Compliance Organisation (DPCO).
“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 hereby imposes a monetary sanction of N10 million on Soko Lending Company Ltd.
“NITDA also directs that no further privacy invading messages be sent to any Nigerian until the company and its entities show full compliance with the NDPR.”
She said the agency also directed the company to pay for the conduct of a Data Protection Impact Assessment by a NITDA appointed DPCO on its operation and placement on a mandatory IT and Data Protection oversight for nine months.