Call filtering service, Truecaller is currently being investigated by the Nigerian ICT Agency, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). NITDA made it known that it would be investigating Truecaller for allegedly breaching privacy rights of Nigerians.  

Reasons explained: In a statement signed by its Director-General, Kashifu Abdullahi Inuwa, the agency said that section 6(f) of the NITDA Act 2017 empowers it to render advisory services in all information technology matters to the public and private sectors.

“Initial findings revealed that the Truecaller Privacy Policy is not in compliance with global laws on data protection and the Nigerian Protection Regulation (NDPR).The findings also revealed that there are over 7 million Nigerians who are active users of the Service, hence the need to enlighten the public on some of the areas of non-compliance as well as guide those affected,” Inuwa said. 

Inuwa said that contrary to the belief of its users, the Truecaller app collects more information than it needs.  

How Nigerians can protect their privacy: According to Inuwa, Nigerians can take advantage of the Article 4 of the Truecaller Privacy Policy which states that, “If any persons do not wish to have their names and phone numbers made available through the Enhanced Search or Name Search functionalities, they can exclude themselves from further queries by notifying Truecaller via its website at www.truecaller.com or as set forth in the contact details…” 

He also said members of the public could choose to delist themselves from the Truecaller Service completely. 

Going forward, the agency assured Nigerians that NITDA would continue to monitor the activities of digital service providers with a view to ensuring that the rights of Nigerians are not unduly breached while also improving the operational environment to support ethical players in their bid to get the maximum benefit from Nigeria.  

What you should know: Like other Africans, Nigerians are still vulnerable and exposed to data breaches because of the absence of data protection law. When data breaches occur, there is no legally stipulated process to sort the case neither are their laws put in place detailing data protection responsibilities on the data holders. Hence the need for the government to enact a data protection law for its citizens.