An Israeli company, SmartloT has been hired by the regime to instal a Virtual Private Network (VPN) at an IT office to be based as highly secured State residence in Lilongwe which will have capacity of monitoring calls and conversations of all mobile users in the country thereby interfering with Malawians privacy.
Insiders at eGovernment unit at Capital Hill in Lilongwe have revealed to Nyasa Times that the controversial three Israelis who were reported in the country as State House visitors were to implement the project.
The three Israelis – Aviv Osher using passport number 3901885, Barlev Omer on passport number 32212418 and Tsairi Marom travelling on passport number 39023709 – have since left the country after being exposed through an Immigration leaked letter on their visas which raised eyebrows on their visit.
The State has for the past five months pressuring two telecommunications network operators TNM and Airtel through Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) to connect on the VPN at Kamuzu Palace.
Insiders said the two mobile companies have been refusing the move as it would be against the law and would compromise their customers’ private information to a third party.
The VPN will be used to access and intercept privileged and private information for all users from the mobile operators.
Some of the information to be accessed or intercepted over the VPN includes listening in to private conversations, historical and present location of all users on the network, calling and called party including time of call and also checking who is or was sending SMS to who and content of each SMS.
The VPN may also check who is doing other transactions and of how much like Mobile money transactions, mobile banking services and bill payments. The VPN will also access or intercept mobile devices doing data and internet transactions.
“The mobile operators have been challenging State House that they cannot do this as it is against the law. But State House is still pilling pressure on the operators and is geared to proceed despite the reluctance from the mobile operators,” said a high ranking official at eGovernment who complained that they have been overlooked to do the project.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) witness in the famous presidential elections petition case Daud Suleman, who is also an IT geek, told a political rally that Macra was pressuring TNM and Airtel to feed information into the VPN at Kamuzu Palace.
“Macra you told TNM and Airtel to put VPN at State House. Suleman know this and what you want to do with these VPNs during these fresh polls will not happen, we are aware of what you are doing,” Suleman told an MCP victory rally soon after the Constitutional Court nullified the May 2019 presidential elections.
Insiders said with the pending election re-run, Macra is still pressurizing the operators to integrate their system via the VPN at Kamuzu Palace so they can spy on their political enemies.
However, the two mobile operators have maintained their stance that the move is illegal and they cannot do it.
- In our part 2 of this story, we will expose the role taken by Macra Director General Godfrey Itaye in pressurizing the mobile operators. Nyasa Times has emails, recorded phone conversations and videos that will expose Itaye and prove links with government officials on this matter.