Bill to monitor private calls: Minority MPs raise red flags

Some minority Members of Parliament are raising concerns about a new bill which allow national security to monitor private calls of citizens.

The MPs say the Bill when passed into law may be in breach of sections of the constitution.

The national security or by extension government could have the legal right to tap, listen, record, monitor the telecommunication messages of the public if it succeeds in getting the interception of postal packets and telecommunication Bill, 2015 passed into law.

The aim of the new Bill is to fight crime including money laundering, terrorism, narcotic trafficking and identity theft for the general protection of Ghanaians.

The bill is awaiting the consideration and report of the Defence and Interior Committee to kick start legislative processes.

Concerns about invasion of privacy, a possible infringement of the constitutional provision on privacy and confidentiality agreement between telecom service provider and their customers are up for debate.

There are fears the new law may be abused by government if not well scrutinised.

MP for Okaikoi Central Patrick Boamah said Article 18 (2) of the constitution is clear on the protection of privacy and any law that runs counter with the law will be deemed to be unconstitutional.

“There should be wider stakeholder consultation on this bill. If you look at the definition given to interception, To intercept means or includes to hear, listen record, monitor, acquire, receive, divert or tamper with a telecommunication message.

“The interpretation there is very wide and it gives the national security coordinator and the powers that be who are going to implement this law when it comes into effect a lot of powers to intercept, monitor read and even tamper with peoples messages,” he told .

The law when passed will have a High Court Judge working with the National Security Coordinator to ensure that people’s rights are not trampled upon.

The MP said the judge in question together with the Chief Justice must be given enough training to handle some of these cases effectively.

“…When it comes to millions of people who are hooked on to a mobile phone networks, there is an arrangement with the telcos by virtue of us being customers that our conversations and messages are not listened to or interfered with but under this law they may be compelled to disclose those information

“So the law has to be sound and should not conflict with the constitution,” he advised.

A member of the Defence and Interior Committee Seth Acheampong is unhappy with the Bill.

He told Joy News they are yet to be given copies of the Bill even though it has been laid on the floor. He like other members of the committee wants to have the Bill given to them early enough for them to read and be abreast of the details and make informed inputs rather than wait for the Bill to be passed through a certificate of urgency.


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