MISA blasts new regulations

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MISA blasts new regulations
MISA blasts new regulations

Africa-Press – Lesotho. THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Lesotho) has threatened to take the government to court if it refuses to repeal controversial communication regulations gazette last month.
In a statement yesterday, MISA-Lesotho said the Communications (Subscriber Identity Module & Mobile Device Registration) Regulations of 2021 violates the basic rights of Basotho. The gazette, issued in May by the then Communications Minister Keketso Sello, has also met criticism from the regional office of MISA in Windhoek.
MISA-Lesotho says it is shocked and dismayed by the regulations that make “it a requirement for all citizens and non-citizens using mobile phones in Lesotho to have their personal information banked with the Lesotho Communications Authority and accessed by security agencies with ease without their consent”.
This, according to MISA-Lesotho, is “in direct violation of their privacy and freedom of expression rights, among others”. The government issued the gazette forcing communications companies to register clients’ biometric information as a prerequisite for owning a functional phone.

This means Vodacom Lesotho, Econet-Telecom Lesotho or any other company that shall be licensed to carry out similar business will not give you a sim card unless they have your fingerprints, facial image and other personal information.
The regulations, which have been described as deeply intrusive, make way for the establishment and maintenance of a database of personal information of all telecommunications subscribers in Lesotho and have it stored in a “Central Database” held by the LCA on behalf of the government of Lesotho.
Upon commencement of the regulations, mobile device subscribers shall have their biometrics and other personal information captured, registered and transmitted to the central database at the time they acquire mobile devices, as well as when they activate their sim cards.
The regulations force telecommunications service providers to transmit all captured information of their customers to the central database at the LCA.
MISA-Lesotho’s concern is that with the regulations, “security agencies no longer need court orders to access private and personal information of the subscribers”.
“They simply just need authorisation from a senior officer equal to the rank of assistant commissioner of police to have access on every subscriber information from the database,” MISA-Lesotho’s statement reads.
“The regulations have been promulgated unilaterally and surreptitiously by the LCA and gazetted last month by the then Communications, Science and Technology Minister Keketso Sello (now with the public service following a cabinet reshuffle early this month),” it reads.
“MISA Lesotho is not only disappointed because (the) process of establishing the regulations was not consultative with stakeholders, but worse, that the regulations are tantamount to the worst form of violation of freedoms of privacy, expression, association, dignity and media, among others.
Econet Telecom-Lesotho yesterday told thepost that it was still in talks with the government over the new regulations and therefore could not immediately comment.

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