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Sunday, September 23, 2018
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KelniGVG can’t ‘spy’ on cheating husbands, wives – Ursula Owusu

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Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has said the $89million KelniGVG common monitoring platform does not have the capability to listen to voice calls or tap into the content of data communication across mobile phone networks connected to it.

Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has said the $89million KelniGVG common monitoring platform does not have the capability to listen to voice calls or tap into the content of data communication across mobile phone networks connected to it.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful, has been defending the contract for the design, development and implementation of a common platform for traffic monitoring, revenue assurance and mobile money monitoring.

“The monitoring platform will not have the capability of either snooping on the voice conversations or the data that is carried on the network and that is non-negotiable. So, if that is the only concern of the mobile network operators which they have expressed to us, as I told them they can go to sleep on that score… The government of Ghana is determined to enforce its own laws,” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful stated in an interaction with the media on Friday, 1 June.

She clarified that the National Communications Authority (NCA) will not be able to have access to the content of mobile users, as the regulator is only interested in the parameters to measure voice, data and other services in order to ensure the right revenues are paid by the telcos to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to boost the national purse.

“They can definitely not see cheating husbands… so, cheating husbands can rest easy; that is not why the common platform has been [created] and cheating wives, they can all rest, that is not why the common platform has been set up,” the Ablekuma West MP indicated at the forum organised by the Ministry of Communications at the NCA to clarify all concerns relating to the Common Platform Monitoring Centre which has been set up at the NCA offices in Accra.

She emphasised that: “The common platform does not have any data, none that I am aware of and they can’t identify any information, they can’t match numbers with names or real persons or anything. That capability is not there”.

Prior to the forum, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful, on the same Friday, had defended the contract of which think thank Imani Africa has raised red flags, describing it as needless. The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications (GCT) has also said that the platform does not meet industry standards.

“As a law-abiding industry, we only seek that the monitoring conducted through the common platform, should be done according to the very law that empowers the NCA and GRA (Ghana Revenue Authority) to monitor us.

“Our informed position is that the current architecture from the NCA and KelniGVG does not conform to these design standards,” a statement from the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Kenneth Ashigbey, underscored.

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GTC said that the architecture does not provide “our customers the privacy of their communication that the constitution guarantees them. We are of the firm belief that continued collaboration between our technical teams and that of the NCA can resolve the difficulties that currently exist”.

GTC said they have submitted alternative designs for consideration to the NCA and MoC in good faith, for consideration.

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“The mobile industry is fully persuaded that there is opportunity to continue to collaborate with the NCA/KelnliGVG to ensure that the Common Platform meets the legal requirement of the law; preserve the security of our networks as well as ensure the privacy of our customers whilst assuring government visibility of any revenues due it,” the statement noted.

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Clarifying issues further at the forum, Director-General of the NCA, Joe Anokye, pointed out that: “There are two paths or channels. One of them is the actual voice conversation and the other is for management of the link [which] reports when the call was connected and how long did it last. These are two complete parallel links, they don’t cross. In order for someone to listen in, they have to be on the side where the voice conversation is taking place… So, unless you are actually in the path where voice is travelling, you won’t listen and this (KelniGVG) architecture is built in such a way that it is not on that path [of the voice]”.

The former Telecommunications Service Manager at NASA added that there are other mechanisms instituted by the NCA to ensure that they do not flout the law on privacy.

The NCA, Mr Anokye disclosed, is working in collaboration with the Data Protection Agency to ensure that customers are protected, adding that the NCA has employed three certified data protection practitioners. One is a lawyer and the other, a Chartered Accountant to provide advice on privacy issues.

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