Internet security in Africa ‘non-existent’, experts warn

Computer showing numbers/codes used to illustrate the story [Photo: The Sun]
Computer showing numbers/codes used to illustrate the story [Photo: The Sun]

Data protection experts pushing for earnest legal frameworks for the privacy of Nigerians on the Internet have warned that there is no security in the African web space.

The experts held a seminar on Tuesday in Ibadan to discuss how the worrisome situation could be addressed to avert even more debilitating realities for Internet users across the continent.

“Online privacy and online security in Africa are virtually non-existent or at best, far between and calls for spirited informed action, stakeholders vigilance and voice,” said Tunji Olaopa, executive vice-chairman of Ibadan School of Governance and Public Policy, ISGPP.

Mr. Olaopa said Africa has become the new frontier of Internet-based ventures and giant telecommunication ventures and, as such, cannot afford to be hapless with its data protection mechanism.

Other experts who spoke at the event also warned of potentially grave consequences for the African populace unless immediate measures are taken, especially the need to enact data protection laws.

Emmanuel Okochu of Co-Creation Hub Nigeria, a Lagos-based technology and innovation centre, said that the biggest challenge to data protection in Nigeria is that most users do not have a detailed understanding of its positive sides.

“The people you seek to protect are the ones who don’t understand why they should be protected,” Mr. Okochu said.

The expert said his firm often issues warnings to Internet users to be wary of how much personal information they put online, but this piece of advice is rarely heeded.

Also at the event was Tope Ogundipe, who represented Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, a public-policy think-tank. She said citizens’ data are regularly collected by countries across Africa without appropriate legal structure upon which such activities could be predicated.

Paradigm Initiative and other privacy rights advocates are pushing for a Digital Rights and Freedom Bill to address Internet anomalies in Nigeria. The bill is currently being debated at the National Assembly.

Several representatives came from other African countries including, Nigeria, South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya, Ghana, Ivory Coast, amongst others.


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  • thusspokez

    The expert said his firm often issues warnings to Internet users to be wary of how much personal information they put online, but this piece of advice is rarely heeded.

    Nigerians are ‘johnny come lately’ to the Internet, but don’t let them hear that! Nigerians, often deluded, always seem of themselves at the forefront of everything.

    I remember when Nigerians used to boast of having two, three…email account. As if it made them ‘big man’.

    To this day, most Nigerians still don’t understand how vital the concept of ‘anonymity’ is to the Internet. The whole purpose of Internet security is to provide anonymity. Many Nigerians still think that they must provide their CVs, ethnic origin, religion, etc., and some even think that failure to do this is cowardice.

  • thusspokez

    All these discussion about Internet security in Nigeria is just noise. Almost all Nigerian websites are hosted on datacenters abroad and therefore under the jurisdictions of the datacentres host countries. You can’t legislate for companies outside Nigeria.

    For example, we are all spied on by Internet data mining and analytics software which records all our clicks on the Internet; gathering information on us so that they can tailor adverts to us and sell us stuffs; or use the data for all sorts of dodgy things. Nigeria can’t legislate against these companies using personal data of Nigerians for their own gains.

  • thusspokez

    Data protection experts pushing for earnest legal frameworks for the privacy of Nigerians on the Internet have warned that there is no security in the African web space….

    Not true, The datacenters which serve American, European are the same ones serving the African web space. The level of security is not reduced because it is African — if that were to be the case, the whole datacenters will be compromised which will in turn, affect the other web spaces.

    It is however, up to users, to protect their personal data when they are online by providing less data about themselves to maintain their anonymity.