More than ever before, data has become a part of our daily lives. Whether we browse websites on our desktops, tablets or smartphones, or make purchases from an online store, we know that information collected about us (either as individuals or as a company), our interests and our purchasing habits can be used for data-driven marketing campaigns by various entities – be they companies or governmental agencies.
What is third-party data, though? And how is third-party data collected and used? What are its benefits, how can those benefits be deployed for good, and what impact does it have on Nigeria’s identity management policy? What are the implications for national security and personal privacy?
Those were the questions that engaged the minds of panelists at the recently-concluded 2021 conference of the NBA’s Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL) in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. Chaired by the immediate past chairman of the Section, Prof. Paul Ananaba, SAN, who sat in for Hon. Justice O. A. Ogunbowale of the National Industrial Court, the discourse opened with a lead presentation by Basil Udotai, an ICT lawyer and consultant who currently serves as the chairman of the NBA’s Digital Committee.
Third-party data, Udotai explained, is any data collected from a variety of sources by a company with no direct connection to the consumer whose data is collected. Third-party data sources, he said, may include websites, social media networks, surveys, and subscriptions.
He went on to say that third-party data is collected and used by data management platforms or data providers to enrich or create targeted profile segments that can be bought by companies or brands for their marketing campaigns – or, in the case of national entities, for identification or investigative purposes.
Udotai went on to explain the benefits of third-party data, which include, in the case of corporate entities, the ability to supplement existing data files or create new ones for better audience targeting on a broader and deeper scale, which allows a company or brand to go beyond its usual audience.
In the case of a governmental agency, though, it can help in various ways – such as, as already mentioned, identification and investigation (of crime. The investigation into the shocking murder of Iniobong Umoren, the job seeker from Akwa Ibom State, for example, was significantly boosted by the revelations of an investigative journalist who provided actionable intelligence using third-party data).
Data science and intelligence can also be used, Udotai stressed, in resolving the challenges of ensuring free and fair elections in Nigeria; provision of quality education; transparent procurements; effective anti-corruption measures; the battle against insecurity; provision of effective and seamless transportation; growing agriculture and ensuring food security; health and human services; trade and commerce; steady electricity; and improving customer services.
NEWSWIRE‘s correspondent at the conference reports that Udotai’s presentation raised a number of pertinent questions among the panel members on one hand, and the assembled audience on the other. Some of these questions were: Who ultimately owns the data that is being collected in this manner? What is an algorithm? Where is the money? If data is property, does property law apply to it? How about the use of eminent domain? and so forth.
The panel, comprising of such legal and IT experts as Dr. Oladapo Olanipekun, SAN (the Lead Partner at the law firm of Esther & Makarios; Mr. Monday Onyekachi Ubani, (Senior Counsel at Ubani & Co. and the newly-inaugurated chairman of SPIDEL); Ikechukwu Uwanna (Partner at Tsedaqah Attorneys), and Engr. Aliyu Aaziz (CEO of the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC) among others, also dealt with the clamour for a more robust data-protection mechanism, as well as the call by stakeholders for a ‘data mindset’ and mental reboot on the part of both the government and the generality of Nigerians.
In conclusion, the panel agreed that third-party data should be an integral part of any data-driven marketing or governmental campaign. Data aggregated from a variety of sources, whether it be websites, surveys or publicly available information, can provide data that is rich in both breadth and depth, making for more targeted and more effective messaging that can achieve its desired objectives without jeopardizing national security or personal privacy.
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