High Court Stops Gov’t Spying On Citizen Via Mobile Data

The Accra High Court has ordered the Akufo Addo administration government to stop collecting the personal data of mobile phone subscribers, in what has raised contention about personal data mining and targeting of political opponents.

In a 70-page judgement delivered in Accra today, July 22, 2021, the court ruled that the President’s actions violate citizens’ right to privacy.

The court presided over by Mrs. Justice Rebecca Sittie, also directed the government to delete all such data and submit a report to the Registrar of the High Court within 14 days.  

The court ordered Vodafone, the NCA and Kelni GVG to pay damages of GH¢ 20,000 each to Mr. Francis Kwarteng Arthur, the applicant in the landmark suit which commenced in April 2020.

Mr. Kwateng is a private legal practitioner who had been peeved by the invasion of personal privacy by the Akufo Addo administration which used the Ursula Owusu-led Communications Ministry to arm-twist mobile telecom providers to cough up personal data of their subscribers.

Critics think the privacy invasion by the government contained in the Executive Instrument (EI) Number 63 was an attempt to capture the personal data of Ghanaians for an undue political advantage to the ruling party.

The EI 63 orders all telecommunication networks and service providers to hand over the personal information of all customers and subscribers to the President.

The President’s reason for making CI 63, according to the Attorney-General, was to conduct contact tracing to control the spread of the deadly covid-19. However, industry watchers say it is a mere smokescreen for something more sinister.

Since the passing of the EI 63 in March 2020, the personal information of millions of mobile phone service subscribers has been collected and given to a private company, Kelni GVG which was fraudulently contracted by Ursula Owusu, the Communications Minister.

Counsel for the applicant, Dr Justice Sai, argued, among others, that “EI 63 offends the permissible limitation clause of the Constitution … and that the mechanism that EI 63 deploys is extremely disproportionate to the intended purpose.”

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