Big Data, Privacy, Surveillance and Mobile Banking

Mwen Fikirini


4 thoughts on “Big Data, Privacy, Surveillance and Mobile Banking

  1. Alix says:

    Dear Mwen,

    Since you didn’t receive feedback to your video yet, here are some of my thoughts:
    I think you picked a very interesting topic and I like the idea of contrasting the widely and quickly spread access to mobile phones in Tanzania and the potential of digital innovation with the potential negative implications of using mobile banking apps.

    I do, however, think you could strengthen your storyline in a number of ways and could thus arrive at a more convincing argument. You start of by elaborating on the figures of Tanzania, but then go on to give examples of surveillance problems in other countries, which seems a little forced. The link between using banking apps and state surveillance would furthermore have to be elaborated on in order to convincingly prove your point of the negative implications of using the app. I would have also appreciated some more information about the app (who developed it, who owns it, how does it work, what are more benefits and drawbacks) and it’s context (what happens with users’ data, what regulations and frameworks are in place or should be in place, maybe in comparison to a developed country).

    Your point of departure for your argument – the problem of data protection when introducing the banking app without the necessary legal frameworks and users’ literacy – is great, but I think your video stops before you actually make an argument and go into details regarding the problem. You could delve into questions of whether it would be prudent or even possible to hold back technological progress, whether the risks of data breaches are worth the benefits of promoting Tanzanians’ economic possibilities (or whatever the up- and downsides or this app are), what responsibilities and opportunities Western developmental aid organisations or governments have to mitigate this problem, etc. Your own reflection and assessment of the situation with the banking app in Tanzania would have also been very interesting!

    Some of my remarks may actually be addressed in your video, but the editing as well as the quick jumps between topics made it a little hard to follow at times – so maybe some of my points are more based on the presentation of your argument instead of the actual content.


  2. dennisblokzeijl says:

    Dear Mwen,

    I really liked that you picked a case study that is close to your own interests.

    However, I find it difficult to decide what argument you are trying to make. I have to agree with Alix, the high pace of the video makes it sometimes a bit hard to follow. How I understand it, you state that e-banking in Africa is still in its infancy and is particular vulnerably for privacy breaches, as you elaborate on later in the video. How I understand it, is that you argue that platforms such as Chomoka provide an alternative.

    Nonetheless, I think that you address an interesting topic that many people forget about. Although privacy and surveillance are general concerns that are being brought up in the internet discussion, I think this shows how important it is to place this into context, and not only see this through a Western perspective. As stressed by Saint and Garba (2016), policies which may be appropriate in developed countries cannot necessarily be successfully duplicated in Africa. I found an article about e-banking in Nigeria that primarily stresses the positive aspects of developing e-banking Africa, but does not address problems with corruption. However, I am not quite sure how to change this. If laws and regulations in digital Africa are far behind, how it is possible to improve this. I think this is something that is embedded in the culture of many African countries, and I believe poverty is one of the aspects to blame. Although this does not apply to all cases, I think many poor or middle class Africans think this is a legit way to make some extra money. This is different for political actors, but I still think it this widespread tolerance of bribes and corruption is part of the problem. These problems might strongly hinder the development of a legal framework for privacy and surveillance considering e-banking in Africa.

    Unfortunately, I do not have the answer either, but it strongly triggered me to think beyond problems concerning e-banking, or internet usage in general, from a Western perspective. In the specific context of emerging countries, other problems might hinder the further development of the internet in ways that are unfamiliar or different from the west. Thank you for making me realise this.

    Kind regards,


  3. Elisabeth Sokol says:

    Dear Mwen,

    I personally really like the topic of big data, privacy, and surveillance. However, I do believe this was more an informational video, than a critical one. Sometimes it was hard for me to follow the information, since it did not always match the video, and the frames kind of jumped sometimes.

    I think it is interesting that you talk about the case of Tanzania and the access to mobile phones, addressing the potential of digital innovation and future implications of banking apps on your phone. However, I do not understand why you started the video with this case, and I would have liked to know a little bit more about this, before you continued talking about surveillance issues in other regions.

    I can understand why using banking apps, and issues with surveillance are linked to each other, and why they may influence each other negatively. However, you should also address this in the video. Maybe start with a general explanation of concepts such as big data, privacy, and surveillance, and then dig deeper into the case study of Tanzania and take a stance. In order to strengthen your argument in this video you could have explored the question you asked in the end a little more: ‘’But we must still ask ourselves, at what cost? The risk of greater surveillance paired with the privacy and data breaches is all too real’’. Well, what do you think? What do other’s think? What is your opinion about this? Is a platform such as Chomoka a better alternative then, as you argue? I would have liked to know a little bit more about this alternative, and how it works exactly.

    I also believe that it would be interesting if you would compare the situation in Africa to the situation in the Western World; what is the difference? What are the perceptions of big data over there, and what are they here? Besides this, I do believe that this is a very important and crucial topic that needs to be addressed way more. The issue of privacy and surveillance is a general concern of the internet all around the globe, however the outcomes may be different throughout the world. This video did shed some light on Africa, putting it into perspective like that. I do however, in context of economic potential argue that e-banking might be something that is progressive for the African market, with positive implications as well. But I do understand that this was not your viewpoint for the video. I think it would be interesting to further explore this topic in the future. Thank you for you video!

    Kind regards,


  4. Payal Arora says:

    Dear Mwen,
    Thank you for this interesting video that has given us more insight on cyber surveillance in the African region. Some of the quotes you use are very powerful, illustrating the concerns and future of cyber surveillance in this region. Adding to the thoughtful comments above, I would agree with others here that you move too quickly sometimes from one frame to another especially when you share quotes but swiftly change to the next topic. More importantly however, I am concerned that there are actually two arguments here that you are pursuing, creating a bit of confusion on the focus on the research question. This video could be about cyber-surveillance in Africa and its impact on democracy and citizen rights. This video could also be about mobile banking but less so, in my opinion given the structure and use of sources. Both topics would be excellent to focus on. Overall thank you for opening up the discussion on privacy and surveillance in Africa.


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