‘We resist government’s attempt to hide behind coronavirus pandemic to listen in on our phone calls’ – Ablakwa

The legislator for North Tongu has called on Ghanaians to resist what he describes as attempts by government to use coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to snoop on private conversations over the phone.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa’s concerns follow reports that the National Communications Authority (NCA) is taking advantage of the emergency laws recently passed by Parliament to demand phone records of Ghanaians and mobile money details among others

Since the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the country, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health has enhanced contact tracing to identify people who have been in contact with infected persons to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

This includes the employment of technology to facilitate the process.

As part of measures to curb the pandemic, Parliament passed a new emergency laws under an Executive Instrument (EI 63),.

Per section 100 of EI 63, the president could assume direct control of the telcos and determine their operations, a power which is unconstitutional and illegal, according to private legal practitioner Samson Lardi Anyenini

In an episode of JoyNews’ Newsfile on April 4, 2020, Mr Anyenini explained that “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”.

On the back of this development, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa in a statement Saturday said he “getting increasingly alarmed by the subtle authoritarianism and disregard for personal liberties emerging during this pandemic.”

“The telcos must stand firm and not bow to pressure to submit unhashed Mobile Money data and a dump of merchant codes to Government. How does info on MoMo transactions reasonably help us fight the pandemic?” he quizzed.

Ghana’s case count of coronavirus currently stands at 408 with 8 deaths and four recoveries.

Mr Ablakwa also had some other recommendations for the government as it races against time to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country including expenditure cutes and care for all citizens home and abroad.