Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), a social enterprise that connects under-served Nigerian youths with ICT-enabled opportunities, has rejected the ’Caller location Information Bill’ which has already passed second reading at the House of Representative.
As part of its work, PIN also engage in ICT Policy intervention; discourages bad policies, laws or regulation, especially those that touch on the digital rights of citizens and advocates for citizen-friendly, right-respecting, ones.
However, 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.
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.
The Bill, if passed into law will oblige telecoms service providers to provide security agencies with callers’ location information anytime such demand is made.
The Bill 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.
Also, it gives telecoms service providers the power to determine its own protocol/processes involved in surrendering user’s location details to law enforcement agencies.
Reacting to the proposed Bill, Adeboye Adegoke, programme manager (ICT Policy) at PIN, 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”.
Also speaking, ‘Gbenga Sesan, executive director, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria describes the Bill as dangerous and one that will definitely be abused by Government and powerful people in the society. “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”.
“We would like to call on all stakeholders to reject this Bill in its entirety and that the Nigeria House of Representatives suspend further deliberation or consideration of the draft legislation as it was not thoroughly conceived and lacking the needed rigorousity such a sensitive Bill requires” ‘Gbenga concluded.