The Federal Government, through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has charged the telecommunications operators in the country to monitor and keep records of calls and other communications passing through their networks. The commission stated that the operators must have the records and be ready to submit it to security agencies should the need arise.
Failure of any telecom operator to comply with this directive attracts a N5 million immediate fine as well as an additional daily N500,000 until compliance, in line with the gazetted document by the Federal Government found on the website of the NCC tagged ‘Lawful Interception Regulation.’
It is also pertinent to note that failure of the telcos to comply with this regulation could lead to the revoking of their licenses, according to the provisions of section 45 in the NCC Act.
Meanwhile, the commission will not be footing the bills of operators equipment as it has ordered them to acquire all facilities or equipment needed to monitor calls at their own cost.
“Every Licensee shall, within such period as may be specified by the Commission, acquire all necessary facilities and devices to enable the monitoring of communications under these Regulations realisable. The investment, technical, maintenance and operating costs to enable the Licensee give effect to the provisions of these Regulations shall be borne by the Licensee,” it stated.
What you should know: This regulation on screening calls was first drafted in 2013 but was condemned by stakeholders because they felt it was a contradiction to the rights of mobile subscribers to privacy. However, the document showed that the regulation went on and was gazetted by the Federal Government in January this year.
Nevertheless, unlawful call recording or interception of communications has been going on for years, albeit secretly, hence this regulation only gives it legal backing.
However, while this is good for security purposes, it is arguable that Nigerians do not support it. In the past, intelligence agencies have used operations like this to oppress people and monitor dissent. So it is only normal that citizens would be concerned that their government is monitoring their calls.