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Malawian telecom operators lose ground in ‘Spy Machine’ fight

This system is designed to prevent telecoms customers from being overcharged.

Here in Nigeria, subscribers daily send complaints to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over billing anomaly by their network operators.
To prevent this sort of complaints in Malawi, Macra bought the Cirms – which was later popularised as ‘the Spy Machine’ – from a US-based company, Agilis International, at a cost of USD6.8 million and by August, it had paid USD2 million.
Ever since its acquisition, operators have been protesting its installation claiming it would infringe on the public’s right to privacy now has its hope in the pending court ruling over the matter.
Last week, the Malawi Parliament gave Macra the go-ahead to install the machine after adopting a report from the House’s Committee on Media and Communications which was investigating the matter.
Telecommunication operators in Malawi still insist that using the high-tech call tracking equipment is a violation of users of their services and will compromise obligation and duty they have to their subscribers.
They also based their argument on the laws of Malawi saying Section 21 sub section c of the Malawi Constitution states that ‘Every person shall have the right to personal privacy, which shall include the right not to be subject to interference with private communications including mail and all forms of telecommunications.’
But parliament which has the bragging rights in the formulation of laws in the country overwhelmingly supported the controversial machine.
Members of Parliament (MPs) took turns without looking at their political division and supported the machine following the tabling of the parliamentary committee’s report on the Cirms.
It was tabled in the House during the last meeting of Parliament in February and all parliamentarians who debated on it supported the committee’s position to allow Macra implement the system.


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