Sections 17(b), (e), (g), (l), (m), (p), (t), (x), (y)

The Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (“Commission”) and other collaborators on the Joint Regulatory & Enforcement Taskforce, (CBN, ICPC, NITDA, EFCC, NCC, NDPB) (“JRTF”) welcome Google’s broad and responsible policy of barring digital lending applications that are equipped to access personal information such as contacts, photos, videos, precise location data and call logs from its Play Store (platform of download by consumers).

This step is consistent with the Commission’s position and resolve that such access is intrusive, and violates consumer privacy on multiple levels, including, and especially third-party privacy rights of persons who provided their personal information or data to customers or borrowers of digital lenders, but have no relationship or privity to the transaction[s] between such customers and the digital lenders.

This is an important step in streamlining and sanitising the digital lending space. It is an outcome of extended and intense investigation, enforcement, intervention, collaboration and engagement; and another example of how the right approach to regulation can improve and strengthen ecosystems.

The Commission and partners on the JRTF recognise the value digital lending can, and does provide in society, as well as respect lenders’ desire, indeed prerogative to recover; and borrowers’ obligations to pay back loans. However, the Commission insists that this important component of commerce and consumer service is not incompatible, or mutually exclusive with legal, ethical and otherwise acceptable methods of recovery or securing compliance with obligations. Google’s progressive decision underscores this position of the Commission.

The Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending (LIRRFGDL) published and enforced by the Commission preceded Google’s policy, and this institutionalisation by Google affirms legitimacy and further reduces the possibility or occurrence of abusive conduct by any lender. This is appropriate respite for consumers who have been subjected to abusive, intrusive, defamatory and other forms of unacceptable borrowing or recovery practices, and an assurance that such practices are less likely to occur going forward, and where they do, the regulatory process will address the illegal conduct.

The Commission is proud to have initiated and led this effort and set a pace that is becoming a globally applicable standard.

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