KelniGVG equipment not capable of spying – Minister, NCA

Communications Minister Ursula Owusu Ekuful and Director-General of National Communications Authority (NCA), Joe Anokye have both stated that the KelniGVG equipment for real-time monitoring of telecoms traffic are not cable of spying on consumers.

Government has awarded a US$89million five-year contract to KelniGVG Limited to do telecoms traffic monitoring, mobile money monitoring, revenue assurance and fraud management.

To do that, KelniGVG would have to connect their equipment to the billing and other nodes of the telcos to be able to collect real time data for verification among other things.

The law prohibits them from using equipment capable of accessing the content of communication like text, voice and videos for the job.

But telecom operators in the country have said in a statement the architectural design of the KelniGVG equipment and the points to which they want to connect indicates to them (the telcos) that the equipment can access content of communication and that can lead to customers suing the telcos.

But the Communications Minister said “if the privacy of their customers is their only worry then let me tell the telcos that they can go to bed because we got them covered – we are not interested in people’s private conversations and will apply the law fully to ensure that the vendor does not breaches anyone’s privacy.”

She further explained that the design of the monitoring equipment is such that whatever KelniGVG sees, the telcos will automatically see in real time so if KelniGVG violates anyone’s privacy the telcos will know and report and the former will be dealt with drastically.

The Minister further stated that under the new monitoring regime, various categories of communication content go through different channels or pipes and the monitoring equipment will only be connected and configured to collect data that is needed to verify number of minutes and other revenue and fraud-related information but nothing about caller identify or content of communication, which would be going through different channels.

On his part, the NCA Boss said it is never true that the monitoring equipment have are capable of accessing the content of communications.

“Privacy of customers is a genuine concern but listen to me well – the equipment do not have the capability of spying on anyone – and even if it is we will know and take action.”

He said in even undertaking, there may be risks but measures are put in place to mitigate the risks to the bearest minimum, adding that the NCA has put measures in place to ensure the security and privacy of consumers.

Joe Anokye believe telcos are overplaying the privacy card probably because they have something to hide, saying “we have visited four countries where each of these telcos operate and they are happy to comply with real time monitoring so why are they apprehensive about same system in Ghana – is it because they have something to hide.”

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The NCA Boss said the telcos cannot be interest in the security and privacy of Ghanaians more than government is, adding that, that was why, unlike in previous contracts, the monitoring equipment are on the premises of the NCA so that government can also monitor and ensure security for Ghanaians.

He assured the public that on the government of Ghana side, there are three data protection experts; a lawyer, an accountant and an ICT who are particular about details and have a job to protect Ghanaians.

Joe Anokye is confident the monitors will be connected by the June 11 deadline for work to begin.

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The Minister earlier indicated that she will crack the whip on any that refuses to allow monitoring. The law empowers the Minister to revoke the license of any operator that prevents monitoring.