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Nigeria's Push to Legalize Wiretapping and Internet Surveillance Will Likely Succeed

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, November 18 2013

Normalizing surveillance under guise of safety (Flickr/abrinsky)

It seems as though Nigeria is using scare tactics to push through an Orwellian bill legalizing an extensive surveillance system. The proposed wiretap program would allow law enforcement and security agencies to monitor and track both phone and Internet communications.

“A Bill for An Act to Provide for the Interception, Development And Protection of Communications Networks and Facilities For Public Interest And Other Related Matters, 2013" has already passed the second reading in both the lower and upper chambers of Nigeria's National Assembly.

The Daily Trust reports that the Senior Adviser to the President on Information and Communication Technology, Baba Jibrin Adamu, is “hell-bent” on lessening online crime. At a conference on outsourcing, he said "investors would not invest in a place where their investment [sic] are not safe and we are assuring everyone that we are working to make online transactions safe in the country."

The sponsoring senator, Isa Galaudu, pointed out in September that:

It is, however, pertinent to note that the bill strengthens the terrorism prevention act, which empowers the Attorney-General of the Federation, National Security Adviser or Inspector-General of Police to aquire [sic] information relating to terrorist groups and terrorist acts and conduct investigations or search with or without warrant to prevent or establish a crime of terrorism.

Although the bill passed the second reading with an overwhelming majority, Vanguard reported that Senator Atai Ali called it ambiguous, and said the government could use it in witch hunts against the opposition.

Lumped into the bill, however, are provisions that punish the illegal interception of communications.

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