Scope and applicability of the NDPR
Every law creates rights and/or duties in relation to one or more classes of persons. As we mentioned in the preceding issue, the NDPR was developed in recognisance of the need to protect the right to privacy guaranteed pursuant to Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution. Thus, the NDPR created additional rights and imposed correlative duties and responsibilities, on different classes of persons, to ensure the optimal enjoyment of the existing constitutional right.
Who can enjoy the data rights created under the NDPR?
The concept of legal personality supposes the existence of two categories of persons under the law – natural persons and non-natural persons. A natural person is a living human being, Conversely, a non-natural person (also known as a juristic person or a juridical person) is a non-human entity established by or pursuant to a law, and includes corporations, trade unions, incorporated trustees, government agencies, NGOs, etc. While certain rights automatically accrue to natural persons by virtue of being human, the rights enjoyed by non-natural entities are directly traceable to specific enabling laws.
The data rights created by the NDPR can only be enjoyed by natural persons. In other words, to enjoy the data rights created by the NDPR, one must be a human being. It is not in doubt that non-natural persons also have unique identifiers – in the case of a corporation, those identifiers would include company name, RC number, registered address, tax identification numbers, and other similar identifiers. However, the well-established principle of law – that corporations and other non-natural persons do not have personal privacy rights – would have informed the decision of NITDA to limit the enjoyment of data rights under the NDPR to only natural persons.
The rights afforded by the NDPR are enjoyable by Nigerian citizens and residents only. For Nigerian citizens, the country of residence of such a citizen is immaterial. Aliens must be physically living in Nigeria to enjoy the data rights under the NDPR. What happens where an alien is illegally residing in Nigeria? It may be argued that the legal status of such an alien is not material, for the purposes of enjoying the rights afforded by the NDPR. This position is further supported by the fact that the NDPR was silent on the legal status of ‘residents’ covered under the regulation. Alternatively, it can also be argued that only a lawful resident should enjoy the legal protections afforded under the Nigerian body of laws.