30 January 2014

Nigeria: Mixed Reactions Trail Draft Wiretap Bill

Lagos — Mixed reactions have trailed the draft lawful interception of communications regulations by the Federal Government which empowers security agents to intercept and record electronic communications between individuals, and seize usage data from internet service providers and mobile networks.

It would be recalled that the Nigerian telecoms regulatory authority, NCC, had earlier come up with the Draft Lawful Interception of Communications Regulation, which provides the legal and regulatory framework for the lawful interception of communications in Nigeria.

Already, details of the bill have been submitted by President Goodluck Jonathan to the National Assembly last week.

Reacting to the development, the President of Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria, ATCON, Engr. Lanre Ajayi in an email message to Vanguard said the government had a responsibility to provide security for its people and sometimes that may necessitate monitoring the communication activities of the bad actors.

At the same time, he said the government had a responsibility to protect the privacy of its citizens which is a right that is enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.

For the former President of Information Technology of Nigeria, ITAN, Dr. Jimson Olufuye, what is key in the bill was court authorization for surveillance and data interception to be carried out by law enforcement agents.

In his opinion, once there is such court authorization, lawful interception of communication is good for the collective security of the country.

But in a swift reaction, the President of Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, ISPON, Chris Uwaje, noted that the bill should not directly or indirectly empower telecommunication companies to conduct surveillance on individuals, and release user data to authorities.

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