Concerns have been raised about the new update of WhatsApp, which allows users to access videos and images they have deleted.
It is believed the update clearly shows that the app stores users’ personal information for longer than it says it does.
The update, which is now available to Android users worldwide, enables users to recover pictures, videos, GIFs, documents or voice notes that were sent and subsequently deleted.
Tech website, WaBetaInfo said it was able to download images which had been deleted two or even three months ago. Normally Whatsapp stores images received for 30 days, so they can be downloaded. It then deletes the images after this time.
However, WaBetaInfo said it was able to download images up to three months after they should have been deleted. It wrote: “WhatsApp allows to download deleted media from their servers again. This automatically translates in the fact that WhatsApp continues to store our media on their servers also after downloading them. This feature was partially available before: non-downloaded media were available for 30 days and, when the recipient downloaded the media, WhatsApp immediately deleted it from the server.”
WhatsApp’s parent company, Facebook has been under intense scrutiny in recent weeks as it was revealed 87 million of its users had their personal information harvested and used by the political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook has issued a series of apologies for the privacy breach and incorporated drastic changes to its privacy policies to stem the flow of thousands of users leaving the platform.
Giving verve to local content in ICT
When it comes to technology usage and adoption, Nigeria has always been at the front, but the question is what percentage of the technology is produced locally? This has been bothering government and stakeholders alike for years, but without conscious efforts at implementing existing policies, the country may forever remain an ICT consuming nation that it is, SAMSON AKINTARO reports
Earlier this month, the Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, spoke about the challenges inhibiting the growth of information and communications technology (ICT) in Nigeria and he specifically pointed at apathy for indigenous products and services as a major one.
According to the minister, this challenge is seriously affecting the business of local IT players in the country, from hardware to software and to services. That, however, was not the first time top government official would lament over the problem that is as old as the nation’s ICT industry and it is worrying that despite the agony of local players and the huge losses being incurred by the country over massive technology importation, there has not been any solution.
ICT consuming nation
With over 180 million population and diverse culture, Nigeria is a veritable market for any product or service and with that, it is not surprising that the best of technology products from around the world always find their way into the country.
Indeed, there is no latest technology anywhere in the world that a Nigerian is not already using and this is why billions of dollars is leaving the country every year on ICT importation.
According to the Director General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Isa Panatami, Nigeria spends $2.8 billion yearly on importation of ICT products and services.
Products being imported include telecommunications, audio and video, computer and related equipment; electronic components, software and a number of others.
Corroborating NITDA’s view, the Director General of National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion, Dr. Ibrahim DanAzumi, also recently declared, though conservatively, that 90 per cent of technologies being used in Nigeria are imported.
Not long ago, the office for Nigerian Content Development (NCD) in ICT also declared that the preference for foreign ICT products and services was causing Nigeria a loss of over N1 trillion in foreign exchange yearly.
Despite the fact that the issue of local content and over dependence on foreign technologies have always been at the front burner for years, there seems to be no clear-cut policy to change the situation except for a few government statements and directives that end up disappearing through the airwaves.
However, speaking in Lagos recently at the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) annual dinner, Shittu expressed optimism that with part of the Executive Orders signed late last by the Federal Government focusing on local content in ICTs, things would begin to change.
According to him, the ministry through the Council of Heads of ICT in Federal MDAs had examined the Executive Order 003 where stakeholders in the ICT met, brainstormed and proffered steps and solutions at domesticating the ICT local content initiative in Nigeria.
“In the same token, at the 5th National Council on Communication Technology (NCCT-2017) in Katsina, the council adopted the policy of optimising ICT local content and empowering local businesses in the sector and also approved the establishment of computer After-Sales- Services centers in MDAs and After-Support- provision for staff in service level agreements” the minister said.
Shittu said the issues of local content needed to be elevated to such a serious level to save the nation’s economy.
“What more can be economic sabotage, if actions that cause massive loss of jobs and massive loss of foreign exchange are not redressed. The National Assembly given the Executive Orders has the impetus to fast track the enactment of a holistic law on local content. Such a law should, among other things, criminalise breaches of the local content policy of the nation.
“The ministry through NITDA is ready to provide guaranteed order for the local products and the private sector must ensure quality of service and products. We are totally committed to the implementation of the Local Content Program and the Executive Order on Local Content.”
The local content policy and the Executive Orders came in to promote domestication of technology, using indigenous capacities and resources and to encourage patronage of locally–produced ICT products and services. This initiative is expected to lead to the development of skills in the country and lay the foundation for local production of critical components such as software, which is farmed out for import.
Implementation is key
Policies similar to the Executive Orders being touted are not new in the country but implementation has always been the problem. Indeed, the Federal Government at a point, through the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette, wrote a letter with Ref No SGF/OP/1/S.3/VII/795, to head of civil service commission, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government on the need to patronise made in Nigeria products, including procurement of locally assembled computers and locally developed software.
Unfortunately, that was never implemented. Currently, NITDA is also battling with the MDAs over its new directive that they should seek approval from the ICT regulator before embarking on any IT project, with a view to weighing local options for such projects.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of Programmos Software, most of what Nigeria has had in terms of ICT local content policies are mere political statements that are never implemented.
“Most of the time, we are quick to make those kinds of policy statements but we actually don’t have what it takes to implement the policies. Many past governments, ministers had ventured into this but I think we have failed government institutions in Nigeria and these actually have failed the country.
“We would have been better than we are if government policy statements are being implemented the right ways they were thought of before now. It is easy for a minister to say he is getting MDAs to use local software, but then, it is not easy for him to act when the opposite is being done by the MDAs. Nobody enforces it when somebody has done contrary to the government’s policy statement” he said.
Quality as target
With policies and implementation in place, Nigeria may still not make any headway with local content in ICT without quality local products and services up to the foreign standards that Nigerians are used to. This is why local Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are encouraged to always meet international standards.
According to Amos, the reason many Nigerians would go for foreign phones or computers, when there are locally produced ones, is because they believe the foreign ones are of better quality. The Programmos boss, however, canvassed a synergy between Nigerian technology companies and foreign players to be able to get foreign exposures that will also impact on their local products.
“The Nigeria ICT industry should be coordinated in a manner that they can actually identify those so called big hub players, let’s say from Asia, US, and Europe, if the industry could position itself in a manner that players in Nigeria can offer from a network of professional services from these key hub players, they would be able to enjoy international exposure.
These include opportunities of best practice in their operations and business relations in Nigeria and by that you realise that these kind of footprints would encourage that if I have a foreign company, say from India, wishing to do one business or the other in Nigeria, such company would obviously be pointed to at least one or two local companies before that business can be done,” he suggested.
Beyond consumption of ICT products and services, Nigeria needs to establish herself as a technology nation and the road to that, according to experts, begins from government by first creating the enabling environment for local businesses to thrive.
Again, it is believed that if government, as the biggest spender in the economy, decides to patronise local ICTs alone, then the local industry will in no time spring up and compete favourably with their foreign counterparts. It goes without saying that serious implementation of existing policies on local contents would play a major role driving local content development in the ICT industry.
MainOne secures licence in Cote D’Ivoire
As part of its West Africa expansion, connectivity and data centre solutions operator, MainOne, has secured a licence to expand national and international connectivity services in Cote D’Ivoire.
The C1B licence received from Bruno Koné, the country’s Minister for Communication, Digital Economy and Postal Services, will enable MainOne land its trans-Atlantic submarine cable and build transmission infrastructure in Cote D’Ivoire to strengthen connectivity, reduce international capacity costs and support wholesale customers, major operators and Internet Service Providers.
Cote D’Ivoire authorities believe that the construction of a fourth cable authorised by the government will improve the international connectivity of the country and will provide a lot more opportunities for the national market while increasing competition.
“We have just taken an important step through this authorisation for the improvement of the telecommunication infrastructure of our country, specifically the improvement of international connectivity. MainOne cable will have an impact on price and quality and will strengthen the security of our infrastructure”, declared Minister Bruno Koné.
The entry of MainOne, an open-access connectivity services provider will further democratise the international bandwidth market in Cote D’Ivoire and neighbouring countries and drive down bandwidth costs for local internet service providers, telcos and indigenous businesses.
“Cote D’Ivoire is the largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and a very important hub for business and transport in West Africa. The dynamism of the national economy and accelerated development of the digital economy in Cote D’Ivoire as well as its regional leadership make it a natural hub for the West African region and guided MainOne’s decision to invest in Cote D’Ivoire,” said Funke Opeke, Chief Executive Officer of MainOne.
As part of an overarching plan to invest close to $20m in Cote D’Ivoire with a focus on the provision of wholesale connectivity services, MainOne has obtained the licence and will commence the construction of its digital transmission cable in June 2018, to be concluded in the second half of 2019. Its cable landing will provide open-access infrastructure within Cote D’Ivoire and other WAEMU countries to expand internet access for all users in the region and support rapid development as well as facilitate increased non-resources trade and improve public services to aid the evolution of regional businesses.
Security agencies demand more telecoms coverage
Worried by lack of connectivity, especially in some remote areas, which have been hindering their operations, men of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) have called on telecommunications companies in the country to deploy more base stations in remote areas and along expressways.
This came as they expressed frustration over their inability to make emergency calls from fringe areas due to lack of coverage.
Speaking during a programme of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Consumer Town Hall Meeting, held in Epe, a suburb of Lagos, NSCDC Superintendent, Epe Division, Nwinyi Nkiruka, said most times they had challenges in making calls during emergencies on Epe-Itokin road and some other roads outside the town, thus affecting their job.
While assuring them of security of their infrastructure in those areas, she challenged the operator to aid the agency’s security efforts by deploying more infrastructures along major roads where there is currently no service coverage.
Also speaking, Assistant Corp Commander, FRSC Epe Division, Tenimu Etuku, emphasised the importance of telecommunications service on the expressways, urging the telcos to improve their connectivity.
However, he advised motorists against using their phones while driving, noting that it had led to many accidents.
“Telecommunications service is very important for our works on the roads; however, we are also seeing the negative side of technology because people are using their phones while driving and this has caused many accidents. I urge Nigerians to desist from this” he said.
Responding, Deputy Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, NCC, Mr Ismail Adedigba, urged telecom subscribers to always observe phone etiquette, part of which is not to use phone while driving.
In addition, Adedigba warned the subscribers against buying pre-registered SIM cards because kidnappers and scammers might have used them to perpetrate evil.
On the theme of meeting: “Information and Communication as Catalysts for Consumer Protection,” Adedigba said the meeting was aimed at giving consumers appropriate information that would ensure protection of their rights.
He expressed regrets that some communities were preventing telecom providers from erecting telecom masts in their areas because they believe that there are health hazards associated with erecting masts in residential areas. The official explained that radiation from masts was minor and posed no health hazards.
Director, Consumer Affair Bureau, NCC, Mrs Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, said that the commission was determined to empower consumers with appropriate information to protect their rights, saying NCC developed series of initiatives to empower telecom consumers.
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