The Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunication Messages Bill currently before the legislature poses a major threat to individual freedom of expression and privacy and, therefore, should not be passed, Nana Akufo-Addo has advised.
A section of Ghanaians including the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Imani Ghana and pressure group OccupyGhana have all kicked against the bill for fear that government will exploit it to spy on Ghanaians.
Parliament’s Committee on Defence and the Interior insists the bill is not meant to intercept phone calls and messages of Ghanaians.
Government says the bill, when passed into law, will allow state security agencies to spy on criminals.
Presenting what the NPP calls ‘The Real State of the Nation Address’ on February 29 in Accra, Mr Akufo-Addo said the bill, if passed into law, will give the state discretionary access to the private correspondence of individuals.
He suggested government paid attention to the Right to Information Bill rather.
“There is a serious concern about what has been termed the Spy Bill, but the president chose to make no mention of it.
“Officially, the Interception of Postal Packets of Telecommunication Messages Bill 2015 is intended to intercept postal packets, telephone, and other electronic or cyber space communication for the purposes of protecting national security and fighting crime.
“Essentially this bill gives the state unfettered discretionary access to the private correspondence of individuals. It poses potentially a major threat to individual freedom of expression and privacy.
“This law should not be passed and the Minority has already signalled its opposition to the bill in parliament and the irony is that the Right to Information Bill, which, on the other hand, will rather enhance individual freedoms and good governance by providing further access to public information, all in the spirit of transparency and accountability, has rather been put on the back burner. Obviously, it is not one that excites the president because it provides sunshine on corrupt practices.”