More stakeholders’ see bill on Caller Location Information as leprous
Just as speedy attention is apparently given to a bill in the National Assembly to enable ‘Caller Location’ in all telephone calls made within the country, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), a social enterprise body that connects under-served Nigerian youths with ICT-enabled opportunities, has begun campaign to shut it down.
It would be recalled that on Friday October 28, 2016, the Nigerian House of Representatives passed for second reading, a Bill for an act relating to caller location information of users of telecommunication devices and other matters connected therewith (HB347) sponsored by Iduma Igariwey representing Afikpo North/Afikpo South of Ebonyi State.
Details show that the ’Caller location Information Bill’ seeks to legitimize what’s already being done illegitimately. It is intended to legitimize security agencies’ request for caller location information from telecoms service providers.
Experts say if the bill is passed into law, it will oblige telecoms service providers to provide security agencies with callers’ location information anytime such demand is made.
It also seeks further to protect telecoms service providers from court cases or any liability as a result of its action to provide caller location information to security agencies.
Besides, it gives telecoms service providers the power to determine its own protocol/processes involved in surrendering user’s location details to law enforcement agencies.
Responding to the development at the National Assembly, Programme manager (ICT Policy) at PIN, Adeboye Adegoke, said “This is a very lazy and dangerous Bill. The Bill, by empowering telecoms service providers to determine the protocols that will be used in the release of information requested by security agencies absolutely disregarded the constitutionally guaranteed rights to privacy that citizen must enjoy”.
“The sensitive nature of this Bill should have compelled the drafters to prescribe global standards and frameworks for such location disclosure to happen if at all, but the drafters took the lazy approach and delegated that responsibility to service providers who are primarily business-oriented”.
Another senior staff and Executive director of the body, Gbenga Sesan described the Bill as dangerous, saying “The Bill vaguely defines circumstances requiring such disclosure”.
“The Bill compromises rights to privacy and will be used by the powerful to connive with security agencies to clampdown on activists, critics and whistle-blowers. It didn’t clearly define circumstances that such request is justified but ambiguously mention ‘emergency situation that involves danger of death’ One would have thought the Bill was contemplated to assist in fighting crime, kidnapping and similar criminal activities.