Due to the delicate security situation in the country, security agencies will soon begin to monitor calls made within the country to assist investigative operations, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced.
The announcement was made recently at a special edition of Consumer Outreach Program organised by NCC in Maitama, Abuja at the IBB Golf Club.
The commission also went ahead to state that plans were in the offing to ensure subscribers rights and privacy were not encroached upon in the course of the proposed call monitoring.
Though, the Commission promised to ensure full protection of the rights of every consumer through the proposed guidelines, it however noted that there is no enabling law at the moment to guide the operators on such powers and called for a quick enactment of legislations to give the proposed guideline a legal backing by the time the implementation proper kicks off.
According to the commission’s legal adviser, Mrs. Yetunde Akinloye, “In view of the worrisome security situation in the country, the security agencies are about to key into peoples’ conversation. We as a regulatory agency are coming with guidelines that will guide the operators on this.
Though, at the moment, we do not have a law to guide how the operators should keep consumers privacy in conversation, we also need this guideline. to enhance the smooth implementation of the plan.”
Recall that last year Senator Isa Galaudu, PDP Kebbi North sponsored a bill entitled A Bill for an Act to Provide for Interception, Development and Protection of Communications Networks and Facilities for Public Interest and Other Related Matters 2013.
The bill seeks to give legal backing to relevant national chief security officers, national security agency, Department of State Services and Police to intercept communications considered prejudicial to national security or public interest.
The bill passed second reading in the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly and was referred to the Senate committees on Communication, Judiciary and National Security for further legislative input.
However, though the bill generated serious condemnations from different quarters going by wide spread fears of privacy breach it could bring about, it received overwhelming support in the Senate, in September last year.
But the NCC is promising that the soon to be released guidelines will take care of fears of privacy breach and ensure that the process does not affect genuine conversations.
In his opening remarks, the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Engr. Ubale Maska said since the establishment of the Consumer Affairs Bureau, in 2001, the Commission had taken several initiatives to address numerous challenges consumers are facing by coming up with projects that will ensure and guarantee that consumer are well informed, educated and protected at all times.
Also corroborating him, Director Consumer Affairs Bureau of the Commission, Mrs. Maryam Bayi said, the Commission had made remarkable strides in its bid to protect the interest of telecom consumers, not just as a fulfillment of its mandate but also as commitment to ensure that Nigerian telecoms consumers get value for their money.
she explained that the Commission had come up with a number of regulations and initiatives for the purpose of protecting the telecom consumer interest. They include: the establishment of regulations on consumer code of practice, quality of service, enforcement, mobile number portability among others.
Also speaking, the Assistant Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Reuben Muoka described the regulation of the Nigerian telecom sector as a delicate balance for the commission.
Muoka noted that the consumer outreach programme of the commission has not only made Nigerian consumers the most celebrated among other consumers in Nigerian economy but has also been recognized by the International telecommunication Union, ITU as an innovative initiative helping the commission to alleviate consumers problems.