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Published by Adekunle Yusuf

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Published by: Adekunle Yusuf on Nov 20, 2010
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Threats to Individual Privacy
To a degree unprecedented in history, individual privacy is now under siegein West Africa. As Africans gleefully clutch to their mobile phones andsavor the benefits of this wonderful communication technology, this socialrevolution may turn out to be a mixed blessing. And unless manyirregularities that find abode in the sub-region are fixed, the celebratorymood unleashed by the coming of cell phones will not last. In fact, this mayhelp doom many of the developing aspirations in Africa’s evolving nations.From Nigeria to Ghana, Cameroun to Egypt, Tanzania to Coted’Ivoire, cell phones are fast becoming new tools that allow the invasion of privacy, and potential weapons of repression in the hands of power-drunk governments with their ubiquitous and overzealous security arm. With anexplosion in the mobile telephony subscriber base, which has now givenbirth to an unprecedented boom in social and economic activities, Africangovernments now grapple with the flip side of success: being befuddled withan environment where crime festers with dizzying ferocity. As the world’spoorest inhabited continent groans under the pangs of a booming mobilephone-assisted crime wave, seeming helpless sometimes, the glad tiding isthat there are new initiatives being put in place to tame the security scourge.
But there is also a snag, for some of the measures seem set to both expandthe powers of government and curtail the freedom and privacy of mobilephone subscribers in Africa.
In a manner that may redefine many things,many African governments are yet to come to terms with the daunting task of crime fighting and respect for constitutional rights of citizens, especiallyas it borders on privacy, freedom and fundamental human rights.
[it mightbe useful in your project to explain the constitutional rights and therights of privacy that exist in the different African countries. I wouldimagine there is a range of protections or lack thereof.
]An academic journey around some recent security challenges in some countries in thecontinent and official responses response will illuminate this cutting fear.
The Heart of the Matter
Other Forms of Assault on PrivacyLegal Bulwarks for Privacy
Unfortunately, until law courts begin to test and set the limits on theneed to balance national security with people rights, the prospect appears
Analyzing the implications of the proposed plan of the Nigerian mobile telephoneregulator to install gadgets on masts and towers to monitor the location of customers, Oluniyi D. Ajao concluded that this would invite devastating blows onprivacy and rights of the citizenry.
bleak across Africa. Though the various constitutions make provisions forprotection of fundamental human rights, including privacy, all the statutespredated the new challenge posed by the mobile communication instrument.While the legal ground rules remain unclear about how to marry securityneeds with human rights, another vital issue gives weapons to fears thatinfraction on rights may continue: the absence of freedom of informationact, which seeks to open up government to the citizenry, abolish secrecy inthe running of government business and endue the people with trust in theirgovernment. Of all 16 countries in West Africa, only one – South Africa,Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Liberia – have passed and signed into law this all-important piece of legislation, becoming operative in these countries in2000, 2002, 2006, and 2010 respectively.
 The rest have been dillydallying over the issue. Since 1999 whendemocracy returned to Nigeria, the media and civil society groups haveliterally been on the war path with the ruling class who cringes that allowingsuch a law to see the light of the day will strip will invite chaos and exposenational security. In effect, what this means is that it is only one country –
While several countries of the world have added this important legislation to theirstatute books, Africa lags behind, watering the impression that the continent prefersshadiness as opposed to transparency; seehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_information_legislation

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