A citizen by name Francis Kwarteng Arthur has sued the government at the High Court to prevent it from accessing his private information from network providers amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Joined to the suit are Vodafone Ghana, MTN Ghana, Kelni GVG and the National Communications Authority.
In line with the Electronic Communications Act, 2008 (Act 775), President Nana Akufo-Addo ordered network service providers to avail user information to aid the dissemination of information.
According to the Executive Instrument, the network operators are to cooperate with the National Communications Authority Common Platform to provide information to state agencies in the case of an emergency.
But Mr. Arthur is seeking an order to quash the President’s directives “to the extent that they have violated, are violating or are likely to violate” his “fundamental rights and freedoms”.
He is also seeking a perpetual injunction to restrain the government, Kelni GVG and the NCA “from using the Executive Instrument to procure the applicants’ personal information from [Vodafone Ghana]”.
Furthermore, he wants the injunction to protect the information already in his network providers’ hands from reaching the President.
Per the Executive Instrument, the network operators are to make available, among others, “all caller and called numbers” to government.
The operators are also to provide necessary files to the common platform “to facilitate location-based tracking”.
As part of these developments, “any institution designated by the Minister shall establish a central subscriber identity module register.”
What Act 775 says
Communications during a state of emergency
(1) Where a state of emergency is declared under Article 31 of the Constitution or -another law, an operator of communications or mass communications systems shall give priority to requests and orders for the transmission of voice or data that the President considers necessary in the interest of national security and defence. Electronic Communications Act, 2008 ACT 775 64
(2) A service provider may, if facilities are disrupted as a result of force majeure or during a period of emergency, use its service for emergency communications in a manner other than specified in its licence or in the applicable regulations.
(3) The use of a service for emergency communications shall be discontinued when normal telecommunication services are again available or when the special use of the facilities, equipment or service is terminated by the President.
(4) Where the President requires a licensee or special licensee to give priority to communications of the Government, the communications shall have priority over all other communications but be in accordance with the International Telecommunications Union Treaties.
(5) A network operator or service provider shall develop and cooperate in- the development and implementation of plans for operating networks and providing services during force majeure and periods of serious and substantial interruption in the provision of electronic communications services.
6) The President may assume direct control of the electronic communications services and issue operating regulations in the event of a war declared according to law. Powers of the President 100. The President may by executive instrument make written requests and issue orders to operators or providers of electronic communications networks or services requiring them to intercept communications, provide any user information or otherwise in aid of law enforcement or national security.