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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Cyber expert condemns another biometric data collection by FRCN



An erudite cyber security expert has condemned the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) effort at collecting yet another round of biometric data as part of its compliance process, which raises a national security question, reports ITRealms.

Chairman of the Abuja-based Consultancy Support Services Limited (CSSL), Alhaji Abdul-Kareem Ajijola, expressed his dismay over the FRCN compliance process at the weekend to ITRealms, saying he has lost count of number of government agencies collecting biometrics of Nigerians without recourse to the previously collected data.

Ajijiola lamented that on knowing that FRCN demands biometrics, especially for the small business owners, he was peeved by these continuous demands for bio-metric registration, payment of fees and essentially duplicate documentation by a plethora of government bodies discourages business.
According to him, there are far too many government agencies collecting citizens’ biometrics in Nigeria, stressing that the objective of Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria in this regard could be better achieved via the existing Bank Verification Number (BVN) system, of which the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is a statutory member of the Council.

“Interestingly, the FRCN website as at 25 Feb 2016, is compromised with Phishing links as reported by Kaspersky Ant-virus. What confidence can we then have in the FRCN biometric database,” he decried, wondering where the database is hosted.

Ajijola also wondered if the database host met the globally certifiable standards, given the state of FRCN website, which was part of what the public could see, “then, there is cause for significant concern.”
He pointed out that FRCN could achieve its biometric objective more cost-effectively by leveraging existing secure biometric databases such as the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and BVN to name a few.

Biometric collections, he told ITRealms, are a significant waste of limited national resources, abuse of citizens’ time and raises a serious national security concerns, recalling that in the recent past Nigerians have lost count of number of biometric data collection by the agents of the Federal Government.

Some of these agencies, he listed to include NIMC, Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) cum Nigerian banks via Bank Verification Number (BVN), telecommunication operators and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Police, and Federal Government Human Resources system.

In addition, Ajijola said that even some state governments have embarked on biometric data collection of the workforce and even residents in their domains, while some large corporations engage same, for the employees and several embassies in the country.

He emphasized that noteworthy of biometric data collections is that human beings cannot change or reset their fingerprints once one of the multiple biometric databases are compromised. 

Pointing out that should those biometric databases be hosted outside Nigeria, then that host country has primary jurisdiction and could restrict FRCN or any other government agencies, access to it as that firm or nation deems fit, as well as provide such information to its own National Security establishment given that most nations now have their own data retention laws.

The cyber expert further lamented that there was a recent case of an agency that hosted it's biometric database in the United States of America (USA) and all the staff data and finger prints were hacked and even downloaded.

“We need to consider privacy. Waste of FOREX if you imagine all the computers, connectivity and expertise required,” Ajijola advised. 

He, therefore, urged the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and other similar ‘regulatory’ bodies to desist from collecting the biometrics of Nigerians, but rather, if they must, cost-effectively use existing, credible and government sanctioned biometric databases in the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.

+Remmy Nweke (ITRealms) 
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