Monday, 13 May 2013

Blackberry could be banned in Nigeria

Blackberry services could be at
risk of being
banned in the country as a new
regulation by
the Nigerian Communications
Commission, NCC, will run counter to the
operating standards of the
phone's distinct
National Mirror exclusively gathered
yesterday that the telecoms
regulator was
working on a regulation, which
would make it
mandatory for any licensee in the nation's
telecoms market to provide
access to its
communications facilities for
interception by the law enforcement agencies.
To be called 'Lawful interception
communications regulations", the
which is currently at the draft stage, is based
on the need to provide a legal
and regulatory
framework for the lawful
interception of
communications in Nigeria and the collection
and disclosure of intercepted
It will also specify the nature and
types of
communications to be intercepted; prescribe
penalties for noncompliance with
regulations; provide a
notification to the
commission of all warrants issued, amended,
renewed or cancelled under the
regulations as
well as ensure the privacy of
subscribers as
contained in the Nigerian constitution. It was
gathered that Section 13 of the
Protected or Encrypted
Communications will
run counter to the technical operations of
By their designs and unlike other
devices, Blackberry messages
are encrypted and where criminal investigation
is required,
the law enforcement agents will
face denial of
access to Blackberry network.
Specifically, Section 13 of the regulation
empowers the National Security
Adviser, NSA,
and the State Security Service,
SSS, to request
the disclosure of protected or encrypted
According to the regulation:
"Where the
communications intercepted is an
encrypted or protected communication, the
licensee shall
provide the National Security
Adviser and the
State Security Service with the
key, code or access to the protected or
"Where the key or code is in the
possession of
another person, the licensee shall be under an
obligation to request such other
person to
disclose the key or code to the
Security Adviser and the State Security Service
for the purpose of complying
with a warrant."
The regulation, under Section 20,
specifies the penalties for contravention.
However, Blackberry messenger,
email and
web services are sent over an
network and the company maintains a strict
policy of non-disclosure of pass
codes or keys
to government officials.
Last year, officials of Blackberry
said the Blackberry users in Nigeria were
about three
million and these individuals face
an uncertain
future in case of possible
revocation of Blackberry licence by the
regulator, given its
stern position not to release the
key to its
encrypted network to any
government officials.
Blackberry has continued to face
concern over its strong data
encryption, which
is beloved by corporate customers eager to
guard secrets, but troublesome
for some
governments in the Middle East
and Asia that
it could be used by militants to avoid
It also gathered that the NCC's
current move
was in line with strategic
measures of the Federal Government to ensure
national security by providing a
framework that empowers the
law enforcements agencies to access
any licensed
communication network in the

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