Macra has not capacity to operate ‘spy’ machine,  Supreme Court of Malawi told

Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal in Blantyre has heard that Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) has no technical capacity to operate its monitoring system widely known as the ‘spy’ machine.

Justice Dunstan Mwaungulu :  On the panel of Supreme Court  judges

Justice Dunstan Mwaungulu : On the panel of Supreme Court judges

Lawyer Patrick Mpaka,  representing mobile telephone service provider, TNM which obtained an injunction last month that effectively stopped Macra from using the Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management System (Cirms) to monitor mobile phone operators questioned the rationally for contracting a foreign firm to operate the machine.

Macra, which procured the monitoring system in 201 at USD6.8 million, from US-based Agilis International, contracted the supplier to operate it on the Authority’s behalf, because it has not technical capacity to handle it.

Mpaka argued  before a panel of three judges; Dustain Mwaungulu, Jane Ansah and Frank Kapanda that no one in the country has any relationship with the foreign company “but will have access to our private information in the course of carrying out the project. So, the question that we are raising is that, should that be the case, we have a public institution which we can question using our legal framework.”

He argued:  “The telecom operators have licenses which are issued by the regulator. Among other things, those licenses set out some public service obligations on the part of operators and if they fail to meet those duties, any member of the public can take the operators to task.

“The Supreme Court touched on these issues but it had no opportunity to look on the framework we the operators are operating from.”

He further said if the case goes for arbitration, there will be some limitation on accessing the information; hence the public will not understand how the machine is being implemented.

He queried the decision of hiring a foreign company in implementing the monitoring project.

Macra’s lawyer Ted Roka t told the panel of judges that the Supreme Court already dealt with the matter before [in the case of the State versus Hophmally Makande and Erick Sabwera].

“The court gave Macra a go ahead to implement the machine and there’s a proper legal framework for the implementation. So, this issue is [a repetition] and TNM cannot reopen it,” said Roka.

Makande and Sabwera challenged Macra in court, arguing that the authority, using the system, was going to be listening to mobile phone conversations and accessing short message service (SMS), thereby infringing on people’s right to privacy

The High Court ruled in favour of Makande and Sabwera, but Macra appealed to the Supreme Court and in reversing the High Court’s decision, the three-judge panel said they considered two main issues: whether Macra had authority to use Cirms under its governing laws and whether the use of it was constitutional.

On constitutionality, the Supreme Court held that the use of the Cirms was a lawful limitation to the right to privacy, information and freedom of expression.

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Mtembetembe
Guest
Mtembetembe
8 months 3 days ago
I have had an experience where I buy a data bundle for my dongle, only to find that internet service is sluggish at best or unavailable at my home. Ironically, using the same dongle at work, internet service is fast. But at work I have alternatives while at home I have non. The internet bundle can expire after I have hardly used it at home not because I did not want to use it but because service was virtually non existent. That is one way the service providers cheat. And by not showing expiry date for the data bundle, one… Read more »
Maluwa Okongola
Guest
Maluwa Okongola
8 months 4 days ago

I am sick and tired of dropped calls. Let Macra monitor these cheats of telecom operators who fail us their customers in multiple way. Keep going Macra and judicial, do not let these cheats continue to delay oparesation of the monitoring system

Mfumundilinde
Guest
Mfumundilinde
8 months 5 days ago

TRUCK is the only salvage I have known in this year 2016. If you do not understand issues better keep quite than exposing your stupidity. Bravo MACRA.

Malipeya
Guest
Malipeya
8 months 6 days ago

MACRA is for the protection of Malawians while telecommunication companies feel their stealing from Malawians is over. Malawians lets fight for our consumer rights.

zitherepano
Guest
zitherepano
8 months 6 days ago

These companies are hiding something. What is wrong when other people’s privacy are out under this circumstances. On the other hand it is good for security purposes.Thieves can be finished.Come on cell phone operators. More fire Macra until you you win it.Cirms must operational.

Kamtedza Mwale
Guest
Kamtedza Mwale
8 months 6 days ago

Phone companies are very greedy. Please supreme court judges remember that Malawi is the only country where the phone charges are the highest in this part of the world and please dont let us the citizens down.

Mtengo Wautali
Guest
Mtengo Wautali
8 months 6 days ago
Telecoms companies opposing use of the monitoring machine have something to hide and so do not want to be exposed. They pretend to be fighting for their customers when in fact they are fighting for themselves. They are aware the quality of their services is low. One area I believe they cheat their customers is data bundles for internet use. Some of them do not want to show expiry date for data bundles. And I strongly suspect they exaggerate use of the data bundle by their customers. At one time I bought a 2 GB data bundle. Did not use… Read more »
Truck
Guest
Truck
8 months 6 days ago

NGATI MWASOWANAZO ZOCHITA NDALAMA GULIRANI MANKHWALA MUZIPATALA OLO GULIRANI ZAKUDYA MA PATIENTS MUZIPATALA $6.8 MILLION FOR WHAT.THATS WHY DONORS HAS PULLED OUT OF MALAWI THEY SEE THAT PEOPLE DONT HAVE BRAINS HERE OF HOW TO USE THEIR MONEY NOW YOU WILL BUY THAT USELESS MACHINE LATER ON YOU WILL ASK DONORS TO HELP YOU AID WHICH USELESS DONOR WILL HELP YOU AID WHILE YOU ARE PLAYING WITH YOUR OWN MONEY

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