Breaking: Court Backs CBN, Orders Banks to Collect Customers’ Social Media Handles*

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The Federal High Court in Lagos has upheld a new Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) regulation requiring financial institutions to collect the social media handles of their customers as part of the standard Know-Your-Customer (KYC) procedure.

In a ruling on Thursday, May 16, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba determined that the regulation does not violate the privacy rights of bank customers.

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The court dismissed a suit filed by Lagos-based lawyer Chris Eke, who argued that the regulation, contained in Section 6(a)(iv) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (Customer Due Diligence) Regulations, 2023, was unconstitutional.

Eke contended that the regulation was undemocratic and infringed on Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, which guarantees the privacy of citizens. He sought a perpetual injunction to prevent the CBN from enforcing this regulation.

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The CBN, in response, filed a preliminary objection challenging the suit’s competence. The bank argued that the regulation did not interfere with the private lives of customers.

Justice Dimgba agreed with the CBN, stating that the regulation is akin to requiring an email address or phone number, which are common KYC requirements. “The provision of a social media handle is the same as the provision of email address, phone numbers and other means by which a potential customer of a bank can be contacted and due diligence conducted,” he said.

Justice Dimgba further noted that the purpose of social media accounts is for public visibility, making it unreasonable to claim a privacy breach. He emphasized that no financial institution had begun implementing the regulation or caused any disruptions.

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The apprehension of the Applicant of his social interactions being monitored is manifestly speculative,” the judge stated, concluding that the suit was without merit and should be struck out.

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