Technology

June 20, 2024

Group raises alarm over sale of Nigerians data online for N100

Important notice to know about NIN for applicants abroad

…Served NIMC others court notice

By Providence Ayanfeoluwa

Paradigm Initiative, PIN, a firm that connects under-served young Africans with digital opportunities has raised alarm over data breaches by several unauthorised websites claiming to hold and provide access to sensitive personal and financial data of Nigerian citizens for as little as N100.

The firm raised the alarm in a media briefing yesterday in Lagos, saying that the original National Identity Number, NIN of both the high and low citizens can be gotten without restrictions with just N100.

Executive Director of PIN, Gbenga Sesan, said that

this alarming development presents a major breach of fundamental privacy rights, a breach of data privacy rights and poses significant risks to individuals and the national economy.

He said there is data impunity and abuse in the country.

Sesan expressed concern over the existence of these websites which highlights a significant gap in data protection and cybersecurity measures within the country.

He lamented that the dissemination of such information poses a big challenge to NIN and Bank Verification Number, BVN linking.

He called on the government to urgently take action to address the issue by conducting a thorough investigation to identify these illegal activities, enhance cybersecurity measures to prevent further data breaches and implement the Nigeria Data Protection Act. strengthen the Nigeria Data Protection Commission, NDPC, among others.

According to him, this website was visited 567,990 times in February 2024 and 188,360 times in April 2024.

“Due to the severe implication for millions of Nigerians, we have through our legal partners. Vindich Legal served a pre-action notice to the following Government Agencies. National Identity Management Commission, NIMC; Nigeria Data Protection Commission, NDPC Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Federal Road Safety Corps (RSC) and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AG)

“On March 16, 2024, an online media outlet. Fij.ng, published a story on its platform, with the headline, “Alert: XpressVerify a Private Website. Has Access to Registered Nigerians Data and Is Making Money From It”

“In that publication, the media outlet presented an investigative story of a website with the web address, www.XpressVerify.com.ng, that had access to the personal data of Nigerian citizens and commercialised the data for personal gain. Even though the website was quickly taken down. Paradigm Initiative is currently seeking legal redress on behalf of Nigerian citizens.

“Following the XpressVerify incident, further research was undertaken and it was discovered that another actor tagged AnyVerify.con.ng has been operating in the digital space of Nigeria since November 2023

“From our research, AnyVerify .com.ng is a website involved in the commercial distribution of personal and private data of Nigerians. On its webpage, a drop-down displaying the myriads of data services which the website renders can be observed.

“ These include personal data such as the NIN, BVN, a virtual NIN Driving License International Passport. Company details. Tax Identification Number (TIN), Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) and Phone Numbers, all these are sold by this website to any interested party for the sum of N100.00 for each data request.

Also, Senior Programs Officer, Anglophone West Africa/Legal Practitioner, Khadijah El-Usman, said that Nigerians have made a lot of sacrifices and trusted the government with their data in exchange for a social contract that includes security.

El-Usman said: “It would be ironic to leave all of that data in the hands of bad actors such as kidnappers, burglars and terrorists

“We call upon all stakeholders, including government agencies, financial institutions, the private sector, media institutions, researchers, and civil society organisations, to collaborate in addressing this data privacy crisis, protecting the personal information of Nigerian citizens is of paramount importance, and collective efforts are needed to restore trust and ensure the security of our nation’s data infrastructure.”

Senior Manager of Programs at PIN, Adeboye Adegoke, charged the NIMC to ensure licenced agents protect citizens’ data.

He revealed that the firm has sought a court relief.