An Accra High court has ruled to allow the Ghanaian units of Vodafone and MTN to share subscriber data with government to help it track down the contacts of coronavirus cases.
This follows initial claims that the two giant telcos were already sharing subscriber data to government without a court permission.
According to Bloomberg, the presiding Judge on the case, Justice Stephen Oppong, in his ruling on Tuesday, June 23, 2020 said; “It would go against citizens and overall wellbeing for the court to stop telecommunications providers from sharing data with authorities amid a pandemic.”
“The purpose of the collection of the data is for the protection of the whole state of Ghana. Even the applicant benefits from that effort” Justice Oppong added.
Meanwhile, the move by the telcos drew the attention of some private citizens who had filed an injunction order asking the telcos to suspend data-sharing with the government after they called it a breach in domestic and international privacy laws.
But the National Communications Authority (NCA) in a statement issued on June 19, 2020 denied that claims of any consumer privacy breaches by the telcos were false and misleading.
“In March, 2020, the NCA requested “passive mobile positioning data logs” from Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). This allows the NCA to gather location information to assist the Ghana Health Service to map Covid19 hotspots by undertaking historical and current analysis of persons potentially infected with COVID-19 for contact tracing purposes. It is “passive” and “historical” because it is not live real-time tracking,” the NCA explained.
“This is in accordance with the Establishment of Emergency Communications Systems Instrument, 2020 (E.I. 63). The Instrument required network operators or service providers to cooperate with the NCA Common Platform to provide information to State agencies in the event of a public health emergency,” it added.