More than 45 million internet users in Nigeria comprising the general public are on the verge of losing their Internet privacy on every form of cyber-communication as the federal government intensifies efforts to monitor them online according to a new study by Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), a not-for profit organisation.
Paradigm Initiative in a policy brief entitled “Nigeria: Making a Case for Enduring Internet Freedom” which was sent to LEADERSHIP said it has discovered gaping holes in the actions of the federal government towards curtailing Internet privacy.
Paradigm Initiative had earlier made a request to the federal government through the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to avail it details of the $40M Internet Surveillance Contract awarded by Nigerian government to an Israeli company.
This is in connection with trending information revealing that Command and Control server for FinFisher, a product described by its distributor, Gamma International, as “Governmental IT Intrusion and Remote Monitoring Solutions” had been spotted in Nigeria.
Paradigm Initiative Nigeria’s Executive Directors, Mr. ‘Gbenga Sesan, and Bankole Oluwafemi said concerns about this state of intended abrogation of Internet freedom by the government compelled them to release the document which is available on the website with the purpose of promoting advocacy towards public freedom in the cyberspace.
The brief raises pertinent issues concerning National Security and Internet Freedom, elaborates on scenarios and causes for concern, and also gives recommendations on the way forward.
It draws analysis from the dawn of the democratic dispensation in the country to the contemporary administrative approach to Internet Freedom and the need for understanding the implications that could militate against the nation’s growth.
Paradigm Initiative’s chief operating officer, Mrs. Tope Ogundipe, said PiN is all out to promote Internet Freedom. “The absence of data privacy and lawful interception laws raises issues of possibility of grave abuse.
A society in which perceived ‘enemies’ of the government could lose their fundamental rights in the name of ‘keeping Nigeria safe’ cannot be said to be free and democratic.
“It is in the interest of all concerned that the Internet surveillance and monitoring contract be annulled. Nigerians must also be sensitised to understand the (direct and indirect) implications of unchecked government access to the private data. Enduring Internet Freedom is in Nigeria’s best interest.”
In another development, lawful interception has already begun in Nigeria. A Netherlands company, Digivox is the key supplier of interception technology tools to Nigerian government and telecommunication operators which includes State Security Service (SSS), MTN, Airtel, Etisalat and Glo.
By Chima Akwaja,