Showing posts with label Africa's Internet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Africa's Internet. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mobile, Trust and Privacy

Photo Credit: McKinsey Global Institute

The proliferation of mobile phones in Africa is pretty overwhelming. Almost (used advisedly) everyone owns one. Ghana has a 100% mobile penetration; 53/100 people have Internet-capable phones[1]. This has made it a tool for development in terms of commerce, governance, learning.
A nagging challenge however, has to do with the security of mobile phones, and the protection of the data, and privacy of users of mobile technologies/telephony. This has made telcos, and companies that use mobile technologies to deliver services, to be on their toes, as they ensure the protection of their users’ privacy and data.
Countries are also looking at data protection vis-a-vis national security, especially after the Snowden revelations. They therefore have data protection laws that govern how the protection and use of their citizens’ data by telcos, and companies are done. Ghana has a Data Protection Act that is 2 years old. However, I do not think ALL African countries have the same laws. This can be difficult if an organisation is operating in different countries. A question therefore is how feasible it is for countries to come out with consistent laws to safeguard the privacy of users’ data[2].
Also, though measures are being put in place by service providers and organisation with regard to privacy and data protection, the Terms and Conditions are really long and confusing to the end user. There’s therefore the need for such organisations to make these terms understandable, and concise. Further education has to be given to customers to really understand how important it is to protect their privacy, and not just depend on telcos and companies to do it for them.
Mobile commerce (m-commerce) has taken off in Africa with the speed of light. It is a phenomenon that has really improved businesses across the continent; connecting urban areas to the country sides. A couple of security questions come to mind:

  • How secured are mobile communication channels?
  • What are some limitations of mobile phones that make them susceptible to infiltrations?

References:

[1] Lions go digital: The Internet’s transformative potential in Africa. Full Report from McKinsey Global Institute Analysis. Accessed 21st September, 2014.
[2] Transcript: IGF2014 Session on Mobile, Trust and Privacy

NOTE: The above post is a copy of my mid-course assignment for the Internet Governance class I am currently taking.