- The federal government of Nigeria has been sued before the Federal High Court in Abuja by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project
- SERAP is challenging the alleged plan by the government to monitor WhatsApp messages of Nigerians
- The group's action followed a proposal in the national budget to allocate the sum of N4.87 billion for the tracking of communications by Nigerians
The presidency is under serious heat over the alleged plan to track, intercept and monitor WhatsApp messages, phone calls, and text messages of Nigerians.
This came after the proposal in the Supplementary Appropriation Act signed in July 2021 to spend N4.87 billion to monitor private calls and messages, Premium Times reports.
In a suit against the presidency and Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) argued that the proposal will infringe on citizens' rights to freedom of expression and privacy, The Cable added.
The suit was filed at the Federal High Court on Friday, October 15, on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Kehinde Oyewumi.
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An infringement on people's right to privacy
Frowning at this, SERAP noted that the move to monitor the online interactions of Nigerians will grant government agencies free access to conduct mass surveillance of peoples' communications.
Part of the suit read:
“The mere threat of mass surveillance, even when secret, coupled with the lack of remedy, can constitute an interference with human rights, including the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.
“Privacy and expression are intertwined in the digital age, with online privacy serving as a gateway to secure exercise of the freedom of opinion and expression. Therefore, targets of surveillance would suffer interference with their rights to privacy and freedom of opinion and expression whether the effort to monitor is successful or not.”
Going further, SERAP warned that the "powers to conduct arbitrary, abusive or unlawful surveillance of communications may also be used to target political figures and activists, journalists and others in the discharge of their lawful activities."
WhatsApp rolls out new feature
Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook Inc, on Thursday, October 14, announced a new feature rolled out to secure WhatsApp chats; end-to-end encrypted backups.
Zuckerberg posted on Facebook:
"End-to-end encrypted backups for WhatsApp starting to roll out today. Proud of the team for continuing to lead on security for your private conversations."
The new feature improves WhatsApp's security and ensures users' privacy, conversations, video calls, and voice calls dey secured.