Injunction against telecom operators on spy machine

A court in Lilongwe has granted an order restraining the telephone operators in the country from passing Call Detail Records (CDRs) to Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) on their spying machine project.

Nyasa Times found out from the court registry that a mobile phone subscriber from Blantyre, Alick Kimu sued all the four telephone operators in the country namely Airtel, TNM, Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL) and Access Communications Limited (ACL) and got the injunction restraining them from passing CDRS to Macra.

The injunction has been granted by a commercial court in Lilongwe and all the telecom operators have since been served with the court order.

This comes after High Court Judge Justice Healy Potani also gave the order against Macra from getting CDRs from the country’s telephone operators.

The judge gave an order after two citizens, Eric Sabwera and Hophmally Makande, through their lawyer Ralph Kasambara told the court that their privacy will be compromised if Macra, a third party, get the CDRs from the telephone operators whom they have entered into a contract with.

Telecom operators had raised an alarm in a joint statement that they would no longer be in a position to safeguard the privacy and confidentiality of their customers’ communication activities after Macra had demanded Call Detail Records (CDRs) of individuals.

The CDRs, according the four operators, provide detailed information including who called which number; details of calls received; time and duration of calls; location where call was made or received; SMS sent and received; type of handset used and other detailed subscriber information.

The machine, which was bought from a US based company Agilis international at a whopping US$6.8 million (about K1.7 billion), can monitor and analyze telecommunications services including SMS and Internet usage in real time.

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