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Published On: Thu, Aug 15th, 2019

Violation of regulatory instruments, criminal offence, NITDA warns interest groups

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…Pledges to sustain existing synergy among sector regulators

By Etuka Sunday

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has warned interest groups in the IT sector that violation of its Regulatory Instruments is a criminal offence, punishable with fine, imprisonment or both.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Head, Legal Services & Board Matters, NITDA, Corporate Headquarters, Abuja, Emmanuel Edet Esq and distributed by the Head, Corporate Affairs & External Relations Unit, NITDA, Mrs Hadiza Umar.
The statement said, the agency’s attention was drawn to a publication ascribed to the President of the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) published in the media regarding certain regulations and guidelines issued by the Agency.
“NITDA is clear about its mandate as provided by the enabling law and will not be overawed by powerful interest groups to implement its mandate which is to the overall benefit of all Nigerians.
“It should also be noted that violation of the Regulatory Instruments of NITDA is a criminal offence and punishable with fine, imprisonment or both,” the statement said.
The statement said, “for avoidance of doubt, NITDA has enjoyed a cordial and cooperative relationship with all sector regulators and we have consistently engaged them on all regulations and guidelines issued by the Agency.
“In this vein, NITDA has significantly socialized the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) 2019 and the Public Internet Access Regulation 2019 as referenced in the publication. The Agency is delighted with the support of several institutions in complying and promoting these regulations.
“For clarity, no single regulator in Nigeria has a converged mandate on ICT in the country. Various Agencies have different roles to play in developing and regulating ICT in Nigeria as dictated by their mandates and enabling laws.
“Furthermore, no single entity is regulated by only one regulator in Nigeria, regulators in the country work in a cooperative and complementary capacity, resolving mandate overlaps in a cooperative manner.
“ALTON, as with various industry groups, are expected to comply with various professional, sector, geographical and international regulators when their operations so demand. This understanding has been shared between NITDA and other regulators in Nigeria,” the statement said.
NITDA said, “Data Centre operations are principally information technology systems which support the entire IT value-chain. Reference to Executive Orders 003(2017) and 005(2018) mainly cites the added Presidential Directives on local content promotion.
“ Furthermore, the Guidelines for Nigerian Content Development in ICT (2019) explicitly provides: Data and Information Management Companies shall: Register their products, capabilities and organization on the NITDA portal. The service will be provided free of charge and devoid of bureaucracy and will ensure NITDA awareness of available resources. Host government data locally within the country and shall not for any reason host any government data outside the country without an express approval from NITDA and the SGF.
“The report further purports to take issues with the classification of Internet Protocol address, IMEI number, IMSI number etc. as personal data under the Regulation. The report assumes this amounted to usurpation of the NCC’s regulatory mandate. This is a patent misreading of regulatory frameworks.
“NITDA is in active collaboration with all sector regulators to ensure full compliance with the NDPR. The aggregate consensus of most stakeholders is that the NDPR is a laudable regulation which would further improve the Nigerian business environment and help attract foreign direct investment.
“Finally, we advise that it is not in the strategic interest of interest groups to attempt to set Government Agencies against each other just because of its short-term benefits,” the statement said.

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