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Nigeria to intercept text messages

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Nigeria’s Federal Government has brought into action a draft bill that will allow the government to intercept and record electronic communications, and acquire internet usage data from internet service providers and mobile networks.

Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan
Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan. (image credit: UK Cabinet Office)

While the bill still needs to be passed into law, it will give the authorities the power to intercept personal email, text messages, instant messages, voice mails and multimedia messages – which they say will help with criminal investigations.

Under a subheading titled ‘Interception of electronic communications,’ section 22 of the bill says, “Where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the content of any electronic communication is reasonably required for the purposes of a criminal investigation or proceedings, a judge may on the basis of information on oath:

“(a) order a service provider, through the application of technical means to collect, record, permit or assist competent authorities with the collection or recording of content data associated with specified communications transmitted by means of a computer system; or

“(b) authorise a law enforcement officer to collect or record such data through application of technical means.”

According to the bill, it clarifies that “electronic communication” that could be intercepted to include “communication in electronic format, instant messages, short message service (SMS), e-mail, video, voice mails, multimedia message service (MMS), fax and pager.”

The bill was submitted by President Goodluck Jonathan to the National Assembly last week, and is awaiting approval.

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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