Africa-Press – Lesotho. Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) Lesotho has released a statement that rejects the government’s to request all citizens and non-citizens who use mobile phones in Lesotho to have their personal
information banked with the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA). This was proposed by the government through the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology.
According to the press statement released by MISA Lesotho National Director Lekhetho Ntsukunyane, the institute has learnt with shock and dismay about the recent gazettement of communications (subscriber identity Module and
Mobile Device Registration) Regulations of 2021. “The gazettement require for all citizens and non-citizens using mobile phones in Lesotho to have their
personal information banked with the LCA and accessed by security agencies with ease without their consent, in direct violation of their privacy and freedom of
expression rights, among others,” reads the abstract of the statement. It further said the regulations make way for 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 LCA.
With the regulations, security agencies no longer need courts of law orders to access private and personal information of the subscribers. They simply just
need authorization from a senior officer equal to the rank of assistant commissioner of police to have access on every subscriber’s information from the database.
These regulations do not spare international diplomats and expatriates, whether using local networks or roaming, from having their private information
accessed. They have been promulgated unilaterally and surreptitiously by the LCA and gazetted last month by the then Communications, Science and Technology
Minister Hon. Keketso Sello who is now with the Public Service ministry following a cabinet reshuffle early this month. The statement further reads; “MISA Lesotho is not only disappointed
because process of establishing the regulations was not consultative with stakeholders, but worse, that the regulations are tantamount to worst form of
violation of freedoms of privacy, expression, association, dignity and media, among others. MISA Lesotho is an advocacy and lobby non-governmental organization dedicated to promote media freedom, independence, plurality and
self-sufficiency, as well as free speech. “MISA Lesotho wishes to categorically condemn promulgation of the Communications ((Subscriber Identity Module & Mobile Device Registration)
Regulations of 2021. MISA Lesotho, therefore, calls on the government of Lesotho to rescind promulgation of the Communication (Subscriber Identity Module & Mobile Device Registration) Regulations of 2021, lest the country
falls on rankings in the Human Freedom Index and risks international suctions. It intends to seek legal recourse on this matter if the government refuses to budge”.