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Truecaller denies Nigerian govt's privacy breach claims

Truecaller denies Nigerian govt's privacy breach claims

Mobile app service Truecaller has denied allegations by the Nigerian government that its service breaches the privacy rights of telecoms subscribers in the country.

The company told ITWeb Africa that the users are in control of the permission they give the Truecaller app.

It stated: "We make sure users understand what permissions are needed to make Truecaller work how they want."

On 23 September 2019 Nigeria's National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) posted a statement via Twitter in which it outlined its intention to investigate the Truecaller service for potential breach of privacy rights of Nigerians.

The NITDA believes Truecaller's privacy policy does not comply with global laws on data protection and the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR).

The Agency has focused on sections of Truecaller privacy policy which allows it t to supplement the information provided by users with information from third parties and add it to the information provided by the user.

According to the NITDA this contravenes the NDPR which requires that all data collection and processing be accurate with specific valid consent.

"By supplementing the personal information of Nigerians without specific consent and accuracy, they are susceptible to serious invasion of their privacy. This has encouraged unscrupulous persons to continue using Nigerian identities to perpetrate fraud," the NITDA stated.

In its response, Truecaller said it works with advertising partners such as Google in order for users to continue using its app for free. It also revealed it provide trusted partners with caller ID services.

It added that users have the power to control and protect how their personal information is displayed for others in the community.

"They can always deactivate these permissions at any time...If there is any reason they do not want their profile to be on Truecaller, it's easy from Truecaller's website," the service maintains.

Nigerian tech experts have been divided in their opinions regarding the move by NITDA. While some argued it would be unrealistic for the Agency to review the privacy policy of every app, others believe it is a development that would compel foreign tech companies to take the protection of Nigerian users' data more seriously.

Local expert Wale Adedipupo said: "This should not stop with Truecaller, tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and the rest of them should also be investigated. Nigeria should start compelling the tech companies to abide by its privacy regulations and any company that flaunts the regulations should be fined and sanctioned as it is being done in Europe."

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