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A Federal High Court in Lagos has upheld a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) regulation requiring financial institutions to collect customers’ social media handles as part of the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) procedure.

RELATED: Nigeria Data Protection Commission engages CBN on plans to obtain customers’ social media handles

This ruling contrasts with the Nigeria Data Protection Commission’s (NDPC) reservations about the CBN’s new mandate. The NDPC had expressed concerns that requiring banks to gather additional customer information, including social media handles, email addresses, phone numbers, and residential addresses, was unnecessary unless it served the public interest and adhered to the Nigeria Data Protection Act of 2023.

However, on Thursday, May 16, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba ruled that the regulation does not infringe on bank customers’ right to privacy. The court dismissed a suit filed by Lagos-based lawyer Chris Eke, who argued that the regulation, as outlined in Section 6(a)(iv) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (Customer Due Diligence) Regulations, 2023, was unconstitutional and violated Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution.

Eke had sought an order of perpetual injunction to prevent the CBN from enforcing the regulation, claiming it was undemocratic and null. In response, the CBN filed a notice of preliminary objection, arguing that the regulation did not interfere with private life.

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Justice Dimgba found the CBN’s objection valid and struck out the suit. He stated that providing a social media handle is similar to providing an email address or phone number, which are standard means of contacting a bank customer. The regulation, therefore, does not violate privacy rights.

Justice Dimgba emphasized that social media accounts are inherently public communication tools, and it would be unreasonable to consider the CBN in breach of privacy for requesting such information.

The CBN explained that the regulation aims to enhance customer due diligence measures to comply with the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act (MLPPA), 2022, Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act (TPPA), 2022, and other relevant laws and international best practices.

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The NDPC has not yet commented on the court’s decision

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