Vodafone Ghana has said it has not breached the privacy rights of its ‘valued customers’ in any way.
This statement comes after Mr Francis Kwarteng Arthur, the lawyer who has dragged the President, the National Communication Authority, Kelni GVG, Vodafone Ghana and MTN to court over allegations of privacy right violations, has petitioned Vodafone Ghana’s mother company – the Vodafone Group UK.
According to Mr Arthur’s solicitors, Archbridge Solicitors, the petition was necessitated by the “nonchalant posturing” of Vodafone Ghana in the middle of the most extensive threat to privacy rights in Ghana’s history and one of the most extensive in the world.
“While other telecommunication network or service providers, like MTN, have vehemently contested the request as overly disproportionate or even irrelevant to the stated purpose and, thereby, a threat to subscribers’ right to privacy, your Ghana office has, at best, remained completely silent and unconcerned about the issue”, the petition states in its paragraph 2(e).
It may be recalled that the President issued an Executive Instrument (EI 63) in March 2020, in which he directed all telecommunication network or service providers (including Vodafone Ghana) to supply the personal information of subscribers to him through Kelni GVG, a private company.
According to the preamble of EI 63, the personal information will be used to “trace all contacts of persons suspected or actually affected by a public health emergency and identify the places visited by persons suspected of or actually affected by a public health emergency”.
However, Mr Arthur has challenged the President’s order in the EI as a violation of the rights of subscribers to privacy since “the President’s choice of such a disproportionate measure to address the purpose of contact tracing is, with the greatest respect, unreasonable.” This was contained in the suit he brought to the Human Rights Court, Accra, in April, 2020.
Similarly, the telecommunication giant, MTN, holds the view that the request that was made on them “constituted a disproportionate invasion of privacy” as the request has “absolutely no nexus with the purpose” of covid-19 contact tracing.
The lawyers have given an ultimatum to Vodafone Group UK to get Vodafone Ghana to not only speak to the allegation or address the issues.
“We wish to notify you (and notice is hereby given) that should you, within 14 days of receiving this letter, fail to commit, unequivocally, to meeting all the above demands, we shall, without further recourse to you, proceed and resort to other lawful avenues for resolving this matter with the aim, among others, of remedying any injuries that the conduct of Vodafone may cause to our Client,” the lawyers advised.
But The company through a statement said it ”…has acted responsibly and transparently in abiding by the laws of Ghana and categorically rejects all claims that there has been a breach in the privacy rights of our valued customers.
“We will always uphold the rule of law and comply with our legal and regulatory obligations including the Data Protection Act”.
The statement added : “Our attention has been drawn to some information circulating on social media and online news websites concerning ‘breaches’ in the privacy rights of Vodafone Ghana customers. This information is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.
“In March 2020, The President of Ghana, H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, passed an Executive Instrument (E.I. 63) that mandated the mobile network operators, including Vodafone Ghana, to submit subscriber information known as call data records (CDRs) to the National Communications Authority (NCA).
“This formed part of the government’s contact tracing initiative in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. All the mobile network operators complied with the E.I 63.
“The Executive Instrument was subsequently challenged by a customer, who filed an application at the High Court for an injunction to stop all mobile network operators from sharing his data with the National Communications Authority (NCA).
“Upon receipt of the injunction application, Vodafone Ghana immediately stopped the transmission of all subscriber data related to the contact tracing initiative, pending the court’s ruling on the case, scheduled for 23rd June 2020.
“Vodafone Ghana has acted responsibly and transparently in abiding by the laws of Ghana and categorically rejects all claims that there has been a breach in the privacy rights of our valued customers. We will always uphold the rule of law and comply with our legal and regulatory obligations including the Data Protection Act.”