April 17, 2024 1:42 pm
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CBN Faces Legal Battle as SERAP Takes On Their ‘Invasive’ Grip on Customers’ Social Media Handles

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over “the failure to delete the patently unlawful provisions in the Central Bank of Nigeria (Customer Due Diligence) Regulations directing banks to obtain information on customers’ social media handles for the purpose of identification.”

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has taken legal action against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) regarding the inclusion of unlawful provisions in the Central Bank’s regulations. These provisions instruct banks to collect customers’ social media information for identification purposes. SERAP argues that this requirement violates citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and privacy.

The CBN had last month issued a Circular mandating banks and other financial institutions to implement and comply with the mandatory provisions on customers’ social media handles in the CBN Regulations.”

Recently, the CBN issued a circular mandating banks and other financial institutions to enforce the mandatory provisions regarding customers’ social media details as stated in the CBN Regulations.

  1. SERAP is seeking an order of mandamus to compel the CBN to withdraw its directive.
  2. SERAP is also seeking an order of mandamus to compel the CBN to delete the unlawful provisions in the Customer Due Diligence Regulations.
  3. SERAP is further seeking an order to restrain the CBN from implementing the unlawful provisions of Section 6 in the Customer Due Diligence Regulations.

SERAP is requesting three specific orders from the court: the withdrawal of the CBN’s directive, the deletion of the unlawful provisions in the Customer Due Diligence Regulations, and the prevention of the CBN from implementing the unlawful provisions of Section 6.

  1. SERAP argues that the requirement to obtain social media information does not serve a legitimate purpose and can unjustly restrict freedoms of expression and privacy.
  2. SERAP also states that the CBN’s directive violates citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and privacy if not addressed.
  3. SERAP suggests that banks and financial institutions already have other means of identification such as passports, driver’s licenses, Bank Verification Numbers (BVN), and Tax Identification Numbers (TIN).
  4. SERAP further argues that the additional requirement of social media information fails to meet the criteria of legality, necessity, and proportionality.
  5. SERAP expresses concerns about the overreach and excessive discretion given to banks and financial institutions.

SERAP puts forth several arguments in support of their case. They claim that the mandatory collection of social media information is unnecessary and can infringe on individuals’ rights. They also highlight existing identification methods and express concerns about potential misuse of social media information for unlawful purposes.

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Blessing Ogwuche, read in part: “Obtaining information on customers’ social media handles or addresses as means of identification is more intrusive than necessary.”

The lawsuit, filed by SERAP’s lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Blessing Ogwuche, argues that collecting social media information for identification purposes is overly invasive.

  1. The CBN Regulations do not demonstrate how social media handles or addresses aid in implementing customer due diligence regulations.
  2. SERAP insists that obtaining customers’ social media information excessively interferes with freedom of expression and privacy.
  3. SERAP emphasizes that any restriction to these fundamental rights must be lawful, necessary, and proportionate.
  4. SERAP states that restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and privacy that do not meet these criteria are deemed unlawful.

In addition, SERAP points out that the CBN’s directive lacks an explanation of how social media information can facilitate compliance with customer due diligence regulations. They argue that obtaining such information infringes on rights and undermines the principles of freedom of expression and privacy.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

The hearing date for the suit has not yet been scheduled.

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