Tuesday , October 26 2021

OTT Services: Operators call for Data Protection Act, Support regulation

Telecommunication Operators in the country have called for stronger data Protection Act and full regulation of Over-the-top (OTT) services in Nigeria.

This is a result of mismanagement of consumer data.
As stipulated by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO) in its yet to be published report, which was presented to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) recently.
The widespread use of OTTs and ICTs, and the emergence of data security issues, some of which are not limited by physical jurisdictions and cross-national borders, the Secretary-General of CTO, Mr. Shola Taylor underlined that it is vital that Nigeria establishes legislation on data protection and privacy which ensures the protection of personal data in Nigeria.
According to the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr Olusola Teniola, the very recent introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has now highlighted the need for governments around the world to take their citizens’ private data very seriously in order to avoid misuse and abuse of citizen’s data outside and within their jurisdiction.
“The CTO’ intervention is timely in that it also extends this real concern at how much structural change is needed.
“Hence government policy and regulation needs to be adapted to encompass the disruptive threats that OTT players bring to the current status quo”, Teniola said in an exclusive chat with NewsDirect.
He however added that, the treatment of a citizen’s data was always upheld behind the data protection act in various countries.
Teniola emphasized that OTT players need to also uphold the principles that governs the right of humans to privacy.
“GDPR is enforcing web-based and online applications to fall in line to protect what is a fundamentally right”, he said.
According to him, In Nigeria, some OTT applications are accessing user information and selling on to 3rd parties for advertorial revenue.
“This model needs to be checked in light of the upcoming 2019 elections and with the possibility of data mining or warehousing entities abusing data protection rights to influence the elections.
“Moreso, security in our nation requires that our agencies responsible for handling our data to also interrogate OTT data to ensure that terrorism and acts of criminality is nipped in the bud.
“So, our regulations and policies need to be updated in line with the CTO findings on OTT and data protection and we wait for the release of their report next week”,Teniola stated.
Speaking of the need for Mobile Network Operators (MNO) to benefit from the infrastructure they own and built,upon which OTT services leverage their service on.
Teniola stated that, it is majorly about the reality that emerging markets face in light of the OTT threats on data management and access to citizens using infrastructure that is still being built to provide 100% coverage.
“The OTT model assumes that the infrastructure has already been built to cover the whole population as it exists in more advanced jurisdictions ”, Teniola clarified.
On his part, the Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecom companies of Nigeria (ALTON), Engr. Gbenga Adebayo stated that there is a need for us to begin to look into guide line for specific OTT services and not to continue to be Technology Neutral.
“Service is everything and we cannot license for services and look away from the technologies that drives those services. There is a need to sit up regulatory frame work for the OTT.
Earlier, Adebayo had raised concern that social network operators do not invest in infrastructure, but ride on the infrastructure of MNOs to provide free services to customers at the detriment of MNOs who have invested so much to build their infrastructure and are still investing in the maintenance of such telecoms infrastructure.
He said the new development was causing MNOs to lose revenue strings hitherto coming from their voice and data services, because subscribers now prefer to patronise the social network operators who provide the services at no cost to the subscriber.
Adebayo had last year, called on NCC to consider the regulation of OTT services but NCC made it clear at that time that it was not ready to regulate the OTT technology in order to avoid a process that would lead to the stifling of technology advancement in Nigeria.
CTO is the oldest and largest Commonwealth intergovernmental organisation in the field of information and communication technologies. With a diverse membership spanning developed and least developed countries, the CTO aims to become a trusted partner for sustainable development for all through ICTs.

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