Agreements Law and Technology Legal Articles

BEFORE YOU AGREE: DATA PROTECTION TIPS by Victoria Adaramola

In the technology age where everything is digitalised, the drive for information and access could birth a certain manner of impatience. Worst still, this drive is capable of very dire and detrimental outcomes. A norm among netizens (users of the internet) is to come across contents such as Terms and Conditions (T&Cs), Privacy Policy and Terms of Use when using websites or apps. At the moment any of these contents pops up or is clicked, an option to agree before such website can be harnessed or the app can be used is seen. In recent times, cookies have become more popular in this wise. Cookies are usually designed to collect data of a client or user of a website. However little the cookie demands, data is still released in the process. Due to either uncontrolled joy of finding a solution to an immediate problem or out of sheer “I-do-not-care” waving of the hand, many readily click on the I AGREE column without thoroughly going through the content. Indeed, readily clicking on I AGREE usually aids quick access to the website/app, it could also be the biggest exposure of your most personal and treasured information, your data.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, term of use govern the use of all online and any other electronic services. Basically, it may be described as a legal agreement put up by a service provider to a person requesting the service. Privacy Policy, on the other hand as defined by the Business dictionary, is a statement that declares a firm’s or website policy on collecting and releasing information about a visitor. It declares what specific information is to be collected and whether it is kept confidential or shared with other firms or entities.  A cursory look at both Terms of Use and Privacy Policy reveals that one of the primary purposes for which they exist is DATA.

Expounding on the importance and power that data wields, Adeola Adesina titled his article “Data is the new oil.” The rationale for this assertion is premised on the uniqueness of data to individual identity. With data, individual identities can be accessed or even manipulated. The category of Data that Terms of Use and Privacy Policy seeks to regulate is Personal Data of individuals, which includes name, date of birth, email address, marital status, among others.

TERMS OF USE/ PRIVACY POLICY AND THE NDPR

In 2019, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in furtherance of data protection in Nigeria released the Nigerian Data Protection Regulation (NDPR). The implementation of the NDPR is followed by the implementation of the General data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018 by the European Union.  The NDPR makes provision for the regulation of the collection, processing, procurement and revocation of consent. Part two of the NDPR provides that the consent of the data subject must be obtained before any data is collected and before demanding such data, the purpose of collection must be specified and clearly explained to the data subject. It equally provides that the data subject must be able to withdraw consent easily. To ensure that firms are in compliance with the NDPR, NITDA licensed Data Protection Compliance Organisations (DPCOs) to audit the level of data compliance of firms. However, the functions of DPCOs do not extend to making sure that users thoroughly go through privacy policies and terms of use. It is all up to the user!

Most Term of use on one hand, and Privacy policy on the other, are usually lengthy and they contain certain terms that individuals need to pay attention to, to determine whether they really want to consent to such terms. Usually, the most crucial part of those terms appear when the individual has lost interest while they accept the policy or terms. The danger in this is that those terms are usually explicit and intelligently written in a manner capable of being understood by the individual. This makes it difficult to take certain actions against the entity since those terms were clearly stated and consent was validly obtained. In such instances, impatience to dutifully go through the terms/ policy becomes no defence at all.

Conclusion

In conclusion, your data is important as a data subject and it deserves all the diligence for its protection. Privacy Policies and Terms of Use contain how it will be treated by entities and that could expose you to a lot of harm such as spamming and identity theft. Hence, before clicking on “I AGREE”, to access an app or website, it is important to painstakingly go through the content of the policy or term of use.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Victoria Adaramola is a 500 Level student of the Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University. She is an Associate at Law Axis 360°.


She currently serves as the Vice-Chairperson of the International Debate Team, Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University. She has huge interest in Data Protection and Corporate/Commercial Legal Practice. She can be reached on the following platforms:

LinkedIn: Victoria Adaramola
Medium: Victoria Adaramola
Twitter: @vicky_feyi

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