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Nigerian mobile phones to be spied on

September 3, 2013 • Mobile and Telecoms, Top Stories, West Africa

Nigeria’s Communications Commission (NCC) has announced their intention to award surveillance and intelligence gathering contracts to a number of security firms, which will allow the country’s Federal Government to intercept and monitor mobile phone conversations and electronic mail between users.

Nigerian government is in the process of awarding surveillance and intelligence gathering contracts to a number of security firms (Image: Nigerian National Assembly)

Nigerian government is in the process of awarding surveillance and intelligence gathering contracts to a number of security firms (Image: Nigerian National Assembly)

The NCC released a draft policy on Lawful Interception and in accordance with the Public Procurement Act of 2007, they have started the process of inviting tenders from companies, and at the end of the process, 25 will be awarded surveillance contracts on a consultancy basis. The Lawful Interception policy is meant to monitor telephony communications such as phone calls, short message services (SMS) and chat messages.

Lanre Ajayi, President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) revealed that companies such as Digivox are key suppliers of interception technology tools to the Nigerian government. He added that mobile operators MTN, Airtel, Etisalat and Glo were already making use of Digivox’s services.

“Since 1990 Digivox has supplied various security applications and systems for major telecom operators and internet service providers as well as law enforcement and intelligence agencies in over 15 countries worldwide,” he said.

According to the Chairman of the Association of Licenced Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, mobile operators are required to implement the surveillance software. “By virtue of NCC Act 2003, operators are under obligation to implement technical capabilities for lawful interception,” he said.

He also called for mobile operators to be protected.

“It is worrisome, that where operators have provided information to security agencies and the law enforcement and security agencies have said ‘operators gave us information; operators gave us call data records’. This has often led to attacks of operators’ facilities. It is critical that the National Assembly provides legislative backing on lawful interception.”

* Image via Shutterstock

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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