NITDA investigating alleged privacy breach by Truecaller

Over the week, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) started investigating popular caller identity app, Truecaller, for an alleged breach of its National Data Privacy Regulation (NDPR).

NITDA, in a statement, claimed that about 7 million Nigerians use Truecaller and highlighted some issues in Truecaller’s privacy policy with which the agency suggests that the Sweden-based company may be infringing on the privacy rights of its Nigerian users.

Note that by installing a mobile app or signing up for any online service, you are simply assenting to whatever terms of service and privacy policies guide the use of that app or online platform.

Article 1.1 of Truecaller’s privacy policy, states that Truecaller may supplement information provided by you (users) with information from third parties. To this, NITDA believes that augmenting the personal information of Nigerians from other sources, contravenes Article 2.1(b) and Article 1.3(iii) of the NDPR, while encouraging the use of Nigerian identities to perpetrate fraud.

The regulatory body also insists that based on Article 2.3(2)d of the NDPR, the sheer amount of data being collected by Truecaller greatly exceeds what is necessary for the app to perform its primary function.

According to Article 1.2 of the app’s privacy policy, the app will have access to users’ personal information which includes geo-location, IP address, device ID, SIM card usage, applications installed on users’ device, screen resolution, device address book, browser, operating system, and lots more.

It seems NITDA shouldn’t be going after Truecaller alone, as there have also been unconfirmed reports of CallApp — another caller identifier — revealing not just the names but the addresses of unknown callers.

The third basis for the investigation of Truecaller by NITDA is that the app’s privacy policy flouts the global best practice rule which states that users should be informed of the possible third-party processors that may receive their information and for what purpose.

Techpoint reached out to Truecaller for comments and they claimed to still be in the process of reviewing NITDA’s press statement and would respond accordingly.

Based on the foregoing, it remains to be seen what the outcome of the investigation would mean for the app and its users.

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