The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has counseled Nigerians to limit the sharing of sensitive personal information on private messaging and social media platforms such as WhatsApp.

After engaging with Facebook on what the new policy means for Nigerians, the agency stated that citizens may also want to explore other platforms with the same functionality while watching out for their data sharing and privacy practices.

“NITDA under Section 6 (f) of the NITDA Act 2007 wishes to provide this advisory to Nigerians to address Nigerian concerns on changes to Whatsapp Terms of Service and Privacy Policy which took effect on 15th May 2021,” the statement read.

“To understand the issues and give an opportunity to explain its views, NITDA in collaboration with the African Network of Data Protection Authorities engaged Facebook, specifically its global policy officials, on 9th April, 2021.

“Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) recognizes consent as one of the lawful bases for data processing. Acceptance of the policy and terms of use implies that user data would now be shared with Facebook and other third parties. “Nigerians may wish to note that there are other available platforms with similar functionalities which they may wish to explore. Choice of the platform should consider data sharing practices, privacy, ease of use among others.”

NITDA said, in its engagement with Facebook (which purchased WhatsApp in 2014), it raised concerns as to “the marked difference between the privacy standard applicable in Europe, under the GDPR and the rest of the world.”

NITDA added: “Limit the sharing of sensitive personal information on private Messaging and social media platforms as the initial promise of privacy and security is now being overridden on the basis of business exigency.

“Nigeria’s engagement with Facebook continues. We have given them our opinion on areas to improve compliance with the NDPR. Given the foregoing and other emerging issues around international technology companies, NITDA, with stakeholders, is exploring all options to ensure Nigerians do not become victims of digital colonialism.

“Our national security, dignity, and individual privacy are cherished considerations we must not lose.

“We shall work with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to organize a hackathon for Nigerians to pitch solutions providing services with functional alternatives to existing global social platforms.”