GIST-President Goodluck Jonathan To Ban Blackberry 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 technical operating standards of
the phone’s distinct network.
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
necessary interception by the law enforcement
agencies.
To be called ‘Lawful interception of
communications regulations”, the regulation,
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 communication.
It will also specify the nature and types of
communications to be intercepted; prescribe
penalties for noncompliance with the 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
regulation Protected or Encrypted Communications
will run counter to the technical operations of
Blackberry.
By their designs and unlike other mobile 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 communications.
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 encrypted communication.
“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 National Security Adviser
and the State Security Service for the purpose of
complying with a warrant.” The regulation, under
Section 20, also specifies the penalties for
contravention.
However, Blackberry messenger, email and web
services are sent over an encrypted 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 widespread
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 detection.
It also gathered that the NCC’s current move was
in line with strategic measures of the Federal
Government to ensure maximum national security
by providing a legal framework that empowers the
law enforcements agencies to access any licensed
communication network in the country.

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