The Paradigm Initiate Nigeria today made available a press release about its FOI request to the Federal Government of Nigeria on the $40M internet surveillance contract. This has generated a lot of noise and discussion on the social media and everyone really wishes the Nigeria government will come out to say this is not true.
See below for details of the press release.
<Press Release> Lagos, Nigeria. Command and Control server for FinFisher, a product described by its distributor, Gamma International, as “Governmental IT Intrusion and Remote Monitoring Solutions” has been spotted in Nigeria. The Nigerian FinFisher server was listed in a new report by the Citizen Lab and the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada. The May 1, 2013, report, “For Their Eyes Only: The Commercialization of Digital Spying”, is available on the Citizen Lab website via https://citizenlab.org/for-their-eyes-only.
Paradigm Initiative Nigeria’s Executive Director, Mr. ‘Gbenga Sesan, while commenting on the report, said, “Nation States must understand that in this age of quick information turnaround, it is difficult to conceal intentions and actions that could have huge impact on Internet Freedom. For Nigeria, in particular, the country’s history and possible future (context) make it all the more important to watch out for threats to Internet Freedom.” He continued, “Reports that Nigeria awarded a $40M Internet surveillance contract, and the fact that the 2013 budget has provisions for same, is noteworthy.”
According to PIN’s ICT Policy Officer, Godson Ogumka, “The fact that Nigeria is taking steps towards Internet surveillance while the Lawful Interception and Data Privacy bills have not been thoroughly discussed for possible legislative approval raises due concerns.” PIN COO, Mrs. Tope Ogundipe, explained why PIN made the Freedom of Information (FoI) request. “In PIN’s ICT Policy work over 5 years, we have had reason to lead campaigns because of legislative language that could hurt Internet Freedom. We are now worried that various actions by government hold the potential of hurting Internet Freedom in Nigeria.”
She continued, “On Monday, May 6, 2013, we sent a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the office of the President’s Special Adviser on Media & Publicity. The letter conveying our FoI request has now been received by the office of the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity. As stated in the Freedom of Information law, signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan, we expect a response to our query within 7 days.”
Mrs. Ogundipe stated, “Through our letter, signed by PIN’s Executive Director, Mr. ‘Gbenga Sesan, and dated May 2, 2013, we requested relevant records, documents and information on the alleged $40M Internet surveillance contract, as supported by the 2013 budget. We requested details of the contract and its award process, and we have provided adequate contact information (eMail, phone numbers, Lagos and Abuja office addresses) for feedback.”
About Paradigm Initiative Nigeria:
PIN is a social enterprise that connects Nigerian youth with ICT-enabled opportunities. PIN’s projects build on years of combined experience and focus on socio-economic development. These projects include Ajegunle.org, ISSPIN and TENT. Through these projects and its allied services, PIN connects individuals, people-groups, institutions and communities with the socio-economic opportunities that ICTs provide.