The Supreme Court of Appeal in Malawi has given the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) a go ahead to use the Consolidated ICT Management System (Cirms), commonly known among Malawians as the spy machine.
The use of the machine was suspended after two Malawian ‘concerned’ citizens Hophmally Makande and Eric Sabwera sued the MACRA not to use the so-called spy machine arguing it will infringe on consumers’ privacy.
They were among many Malawians including telecommunication operators who feared the Machine which is capable to monitor any form of conversation among or between telephone users would be used to spy on the subscribers.
The Telecommunication operators also argued that using the call tracking equipment is a violation of users of their services and will compromise obligation and duty they have to their subscribers.
They cited Section 21 sub section c of the Malawi Constitution which states that ‘Every person shall have the right to personal privacy, which shall include the right not to be subject to interference with private communications including mail and all forms of telecommunications.’
The Malawi High Court had earlier ruled in favour of the concerned citizens a development that forced MACRA took the matter to the court of appeal.
MACRA CEO Andrew Kumbatira told journalist on Monday in Blantyre after the ruling that “the system is not meant for spying, but to improve service delivery among communication companies.”
“We have no issues with telephone operators over the matter but the problem was the two concerned citizens who blocked the roll out of the machines,” Kumbatira said.
MACRA had earlier argued that the machine was meant to sanitize the operations of the telephone operators it alleged have long been ripping off subscribers in the absence of the machines It also argued that machine was designed to prevent telecoms customers from being overcharged.
MACRA bought the Cirms from a US-based company, Agilis International, at a cost of $6.8 million.