Government ordered to stop collecting mobile phone subscribers’ personal information

An Accra High Court presided over by Mrs Justice Rebecca Sittie has ordered the government to stop collecting the personal data of mobile phone subscribers.

The court was of the view that the President’s actions violate and continue to violate the right to privacy.

The court has again directed the government to delete all such data and surrender a report to the Registrar of the High Court within 14 days.

The defendants in the case are the Attorney-General, the National Communication Authority (NCA), Vodafone Ghana, MTN Ghana and Kelni GVG.

The court ordered Vodafone, the NCA and Kelni GVG to pay damages of GH¢ 20,000 each to the applicant.

On April 6, 2020, Mr Francis Kwarteng Arthur, a private legal practitioner, challenged the President’s order enclosed in Executive Instrument (EI) Number 63 as well as the manner in which the order was being implemented. EI 63 orders all telecommunication network and service providers to handover the personal information of all customers and subscribers to the President.

According to the President, the reason for making CI 63, was to conduct contact-tracing to control the spread of the deadly covid-19.

Since the passing of the EI 63 in March 2020, the personal information of millions of mobile phone service subscribers has been collected and given to a private company, Kelni GVG.

Counsel for the applicant, Dr Justice Srem-Sai, argued, among others, that “EI 63 offends the permissible limitation clause of the Constitution and that the mechanism that EI 63 deploys is extremely disproportionate to the intended purpose.”

Citizens, Civil Societies, the NPP, Telecoms Chamber, GBA, and OccupyGhana kicked against the Messages Bill, 2016 and asked for it withdraws because they thought it was dangerous, unconstitutional and unlawful invasion of privacy.

The President, under the guise of establishing emergency communications system to aid contact tracing, on 23rd March 2020 signed an E.I. 63 introducing what, in respect of your telephony transactions, mimics what was collectively rejected on very sound reasons which have not changed even in the face of Covid19.All who campaigned actively to get the “Spy Bill” withdrawn, read the new 4-page E.I. 63 and discover an even worse version of the “Spy Bill” and thing you fought against in KelniGVG smuggled under section 100 of the Electronic Communications Act, without need for parliamentary scrutiny and without safeguard and supervision by any third-party or a court of law, said Samson Anyenini.

According to Samson, a legal practitioner, t he President took illegal power never contemplation of section 100. The law’s requirement is for a specific request at a specific time for state intrusion into specific suspect’s telephony records over a specific suspected act of criminality by that specific individual and the requested access ought to be for the duration of tracking that individual and gathering evidence of his criminal conduct.

The law certainly does not permit this open power to have full access to all records, at will, of all customers of all telcos, and for the state to be allowed a permanent presence at the telcos through a central device controlled by the state for unrestrained access to every customer’s record.

All your mobile money data, transaction and wallet details, merchant code, bank details – practically your every private transaction details the telcos are being compelled to disclose to the government.”


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