Malawi govt dismisses eavesdropping fears: Dausi says SIM registration ‘neither for deciphering nor ciphering’

Malawi government has denied that it wants to be  listening to citizens phone calls through after suggestions that the  registration of the SIM cards  is  a plot to be eavesdropping on conversations to target critics, media, civil society and opposition members ahead of next year’;s elections.

Dausi: No listening to people’s phone conversation

There have been suggestions that government wants to use the dat collected in the SIM cards registration and use effectively the Consolidated (ICT) Regulatory Management System (CIRMS) –widely known as Spy Machine – that has for the past four years received some resistance from certain quarters including the country’s phone operators to intercept phone conversations.

But Minister of Information and Communications Technology  Nicholus Dausi said the fears are unfounded.

“Without going through cryptography and cryptanalysis, there shall never be an intention by this government to eavesdrop,” Dausi said in Parliament.

He was responding to a legislator’s question on the matter.

“ In fact, the question of deciphering information from any member of the public who is assured of their constitutional right of privacy is taken care of. Through you, Mr Speaker, Sir, this registration exercise has nothing whatsoever to do with wanting to eavesdrop either by cryptic gadgets or cryptanalysis. Neither is it for deciphering nor ciphering,” he said.

He insisted he registration of SIM cards is not a ploy by government to eavesdrop in people’s conversations.

“ In fact, government is not involved in the actual registration of the SIM  cards. Let me emphasise that we are not involved. The responsibility of government, through the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA), is to simply see to it that the provisions of the law which the House passed are enforced.

“Mr Speaker, Sir, let the public be informed accordingly that it is not the Executive, but this House that passed the law with the provisions that sim cards should be registered. Further, let the public know that other countries have been doing this for years,” he said.

He said Malawi is the only country in which sim cards were not registered.

“Those who have travelled either to the Western World; the United Kingdom, United States of America, so on and so forth or in Africa; South Africa, Ethiopia, Botswana and in the larger SADC community, know that all these countries register sim cards. Therefore, our registration of sim cards is within our own legal requirement but most importantly, we are keeping up with the global trends in the communications sector.

“Because government is not involved, the actual registration is being done by telecommunications operators. This is the reason, Honourable Members, we have noticed that it is them who are providing guidance to their customers on where they should go for registration.”

However, State spy authorities e insisted some invasion of privacy was necessary to protect the public from criminals.


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