Information and Communication Technology (ICT) experts on Monday expressed worry at the alarming rate at which Nigerians voluntarily release personal information on the internet, warning that the act aids cyber crime and related criminal activities against the person.
The alarm was raised at the opening of a two-day seminar on data privacy and security at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.
The seminar with the theme: “Data Privacy and Protection in Africa – Developing an Evidence-driven Multistakeholder-based Approach”, was hosted by the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP).
According to Mr. Sunday Folayan, the President of the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), Mr Sunday Folayan, many Nigerians are ignorant of the danger of ready availability of personal information on the internet to the level that they deliberately provide the public with very detailed information about themselves, particularly on social media and other internet-based activities.
He stressed that personal information including date of birth, data of family members, residential address and personal worth, among others, are private to every individual and should be seriously guarded.
He added that personal information of, for instance, hospital patients, school pupils, students and bank customers etc is readily available on the waste paper released to petty traders to wrap roasted plantain, groundnuts and others.
He worried that “instead of shredding such papers or keep them because of the sensitivity of the information, such organizations expose people to criminals who need such information as raw materials for their criminal activities”.
He called on different stakeholders to begin to raise awareness over the problem before it boomerangs beyond measure.
Other speakers highlighted similar dangerous cultures in other African countries.
A member of the Steering Committee of the African Academic Network on Internet Policy which organized the seminar, Dr Temitope Aladesanmi, explained that the seminar was aimed at providing the framework for African perspective to data protection and security in the global internet community.
He said the outcome would provide policy briefs that would be presented to the government to feed policy formulation on data protection and security in African countries.
The Executive Vice Chairman, ISGPP, Dr Tunji Olaopa, welcomed participants and explained that the seminar was the first step in identifying research gaps in internet policy in African countries. He added that the seminar series would also raise African voice within the global internet community from its current abysmally low level.
Olaopa pointed out that the would was already digital-driven to the level that Africans can no longer operate as bystanders but major participants, bringing the unique African perspective to the use of the internet.
Participants from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and other African countries are attending the conference along with representatives of government regulatory and other relevant agencies.