NITDA Fines Soko Loans N10m Over Data Privacy Breach

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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has slammed a N10 million fine on an online lending platform, Soko Lending Company Limited (Soko Loans), for privacy invasion.

NITDA’s spokesperson, Hadiza Umar who disclosed in Abuja on  Tuesday said Soko Loans was suspended after NITDA received a series of complaints against the company for unauthorised disclosures, failure to protect customers’ personal data and defamation of character.

Umar said the company also failed necessary due diligence enshrined in the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) as carried out by NITDA.

“One of such complaints filed by Bloomgate Solicitors on behalf of its client, the data subject, was received on Monday, 11th November 2019. NITDA, as part of its due diligence process, commenced investigation over the alleged infractions of the provisions of the NDPR”, she said.

The NITDA spokesperson said Soko Loans grants its customer’s uncollateralised loans and requires a loanee to download its mobile application on their phone and activate a direct debit in the company’s favour. This enables the app to gain access to the loanee’s phone contacts, Umar said.

She said: “According to one of the complainants, when he failed to meet up with his repayment obligations due to insufficient credit in his account on the date the direct debit was to take effect, the company unilaterally sent privacy-invading messages to the complainant’s contacts.”

She said investigations revealed that complainants’ contacts who were neither party to the loan transaction nor consented to the processing of their data have confirmed the receipt of such messages.

She said 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 has imposed a monetary sanction of N10 million on Soko Lending Company Limited.

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