South Africa: Statement – Stats Reveal That Cops Are Spying On 70,000+ Mobile Phones Every Year

Press Release

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Today R2K releases statistics from MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom that show that government accesses tens of thousands of people’s sensitive communications information every year using a loophole in South Africa’s surveillance policies.

These numbers show that, at a minimum, law enforcement agencies are spying on the communications of at least 70,000 phone numbers each year. As our analysis below shows, the actual number could be much higher.

Background to the requests

In May 2017, R2K asked MTN, Telkom, Vodacom and Cell C how many warrants they received in terms of section 205 of the Criminal Procedures Act, in 2015, 2016 and 2017 (statement here).

These requests aimed to understand how a legal loophole has allowed surveillance operations to take place using the Criminal Procedures Act, rather than the RICA law.

RICA is meant to be South Africa’s primary surveillance law. It requires law enforcement and intelligence agencies to get the permission of a special judge, appointed by the president, to intercept a person’s communications. In order to apply for this warrant, they need to provide strong reasons because such interceptions threaten peoples’ right to privacy so much. But policymakers have wrongly assumed that the information about the communication (such as the identity of who you have communicated with, when, and your location) is less sensitive than the content of the communication.

This has led to a ‘loophole’ in our surveillance laws: section 205 of the Criminal Procedures Act allows law enforcement officials to bypass the RICA judge to get access to get your phone records – who you have communicated with, when, and where. According to this law, any magistrate can issue a warrant that forces telecoms companies to give over a customer’s call records and metadata. Policymakers are wrong to assume this information is less sensitive or private than the contents of the communication: metadata can reveal as much, if not more, about a person’s contacts, interests and habits than what they say over the phone or in a text message. When a person’s communications information is handed over using the Criminal Procedures Act, they are never notified, even if the investigation is dropped or if they are found to be innocent.

In one recent case, former SAPS Crime Intelligence officer Paul Scheepers faces charges in the Western Cape for allegedly using this legal loophole to spy on the communications of various people who were not under legitimate investigation.

What Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom revealed

All four companies complied with R2K’s information requests. Their answers show that law enforcement get call records for a minimum of 70,960 phone numbers every year. Due to incomplete records (only Vodacom and Telkom could say how many phone numbers were contained in the warrants it received) the actual number is estimated to be much higher. Extrapolating from this data, Daily Maverick journalist Heidi Swart points out the estimated total could be as high as 194,820 phone numbers each year.

All together, these numbers tell a staggering story about surveillance practices in South Africa.

In 2016, MTN received 23,762 warrants for customers’ call records, while Vodacom got 18,594 warrants. Cell C got 6455 warrants and Telkom got 1,271. Due to the fact that in some cases, the same warrant will be sent to several service providers, it is not possible to add these numbers together to get the total number of warrants issued across all service providers, as this would result in ‘double counting’ of some warrants.

The most recent statistics from the RICA judge’s office show that in 2014/2015, the RICA judge issued 760 warrants for interception. At a minimum, in the same year magistrates issued 25,808 warrants in terms of s205 of the Criminal Procedures Act.

These statistics confirm for the first time that the vast majority of ‘authorised’ surveillance operations are happening outside of the RICA judge’s oversight, with no transparency or accountability.

R2K’s demands

It is clear that urgent reforms are needed for South Africa’s surveillance policies.

R2K has already pointed out that RICA does not do enough to protect people’s privacy — weak safeguards and a lack of transparency have enabled surveillance abuses. In fact, RICA already faces a legal challenge from investigative journalists whose phones were tapped by government agents.

Among the Right2Know Campaign’s demands for surveillance reform:

1) Call records must be given better protection

Metadata about your communication – information about who you contacted, when and where – must be given the same level of protection as the content of your communication. Interception of this information should only be authorised by a specially appointed judge with special insight on privacy protections and digital rights. The RICA judge is a specialist judge who must be specially positioned to weigh the interests of justice against the right to privacy. Magistrates and ordinary judges, on the other hand, may not be as sensitised to the privacy issues involved in deciding whether or not to release metadata records. This should not be authorized at the lower levels of our court system. The ‘section 205’ loophole should be closed immediately.

2) An end to mass storage of customers’ data

RICA requires telecommunications and internet service providers to store all users’ metadata (a detailed record of all messages and calls sent and received, all internet traffic, etc) for three to five years. This means even people who are not suspected of any crime are already being treated with suspicion.

3) An end to SIM card registration

SIM card registration violates privacy in that it limits the ability of citizens to communicate anonymously. It also facilitates the tracking and monitoring of all users by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

4) Greater transparency

We should not have to resort to legal action to get this information. Private companies should be publishing regular, detailed transparency reports about their role in interceptions, and the RICA judge must publish a much more detailed report, and it must be tabled in open Parliament.

Users must also be notified when their data has been intercepted. This is a legal requirement of many surveillance laws across the world. The current situation is ripe for abuse, as people who are targeted for surveillance have no way of knowing that their rights have been violated. Only under exceptional circumstances should the judge have the power to delay notifying a user that their data has been intercepted.

Time to end surveillance abuses!

This is no time for half measures and cosmetic reforms. Right2Know Campaign will not relent on challenging surveillance abuses. The people of South Africa can and will take back control of their privacy!

Source : Right2know

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Nigerians Should Invest in The Billion Coin-The Coin Master

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 Nigerians have been called upon to embrace the Crypto currency trade as another source of income, as they daily contend with  economic recession in the land.

This call was made by  a promoter of digital currency, Prince(Apostle)  Sunday Ajamu (The Coin Master) in a chat with Federationews2day .

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”My advice to Nigerians is that they should invest in the billion coin,this  will help them to eradicate poverty. A lot of people can earn a steady income. Lack of information make  people to remain in poverty”.

”People should invest in the digital currency, they should seek knowledge,  even if they have to pay of it they should not mind.  We forecast and advice our clients on what they can invest their money on. Training is going on daily at our offices in different parts of  Ibadan”. Prince Ajamu concluded.

Indeed, major cities in Nigeria are now hosts to the promoters of digital currency, who organize training and seminars for interested Nigerians. These Nigerians are anxious to invest in businesses that could provide them with a steady income.

Made in Nigeria Conference Comes Up on 22 June in Lagos

The second edition of a conference targeted at empowering entrepreneurs, who produce goods in Nigeria,  comes up on Thursday,  22 June, 2017 in Lagos.

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The Made-in-Nigeria conference2017 , with first stop at Lagos,  is an international gathering of both local and international Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, converging to rub minds.

The conference conference shall be held  by 9.00 am at NERDC Conference hall, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos state.

Made  In Nigeria goods and products will be showcased, ideas, innovations and opportunities that abound in the non-oil sector will be explored.
Exhibitors, Manufacturers, Farmers, Agro-businessmen and women, Traders, Fashion Designers, Leatherworks dealers, fabricators, Creative Directors, Trainers, Start-up Owners, will have opportunity to ask questions on their businesses.

Uganda: Abuse of Social Media Forcing Govt to Filter Content, Says ICT Minister

Kabarole — The minister for Information and Communications Technology and National Guidance, Mr Frank Tumwebaze has said the increasing public abuse of social media is forcing the hands of government to regulate the use of the platforms.

Speaking at the 51 celebrations of the World’s Communication Day at Virika Parish, Fort Portal Diocese in Fort Portal Municipality on Sunday, Mr Tumwebaze said there is need to filter social media content that the public posts on Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter.

“In other countries such as UK, everything that goes on air is first filtered but here in Uganda we have not reached that, but we need to be ambassadors of our information,” Mr Tumwebaze said.

He said some people have taken advantage of such platforms to terrorise the country and warned such users to desist and use the new innovations to transform the country.

Mr Tumwebaze who asked the public to be security conscious of cybercrimes, rallied Ugandans to register their SIM cards before August 30 as his ministry and Uganda Communication Commissions will switch off all subscribers who will fail to register or verify their SIM cards.

He warned that there won’t be any more extension after the three month’s grace period allowed for subscribers to register. Fort Portal Dioceses Bishop Robert Muhirwa, expressed concern on misuse of social media platforms to spread pornographic information to the public and asked the government regulate such content.

“Somebody used my name on Facebook and started asking people for money allegedly for helping needy people, and this is wrong. Government should help us” Bishop Muhirwa said.

To mark the World’s Communications Day, Pope Francis asked the media users to be objective and help their nations through spreading good news since bad news disorganises communities.

Why Day is celebrated

World Communications Day was declared by Pope Paul VI in 1967 as an annual celebration that encourages reflection on the opportunities and challenges that the modern means of social communication, including the press, motion pictures, radio, television and the internet, afford the Church to communicate messages of the Gospel.

This year’s World’s Communications Day was celebrated under the theme; “Communicating hope and trust in our time.”

Source : The Monitor(Kampala)

South Africa: Do Not Open Unknown Emails

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Pretoria — South Africans have been warned not to open any unknown emails and to urgently update their security software as a global cyber ransom attack spread on Friday.

Friday’s global cyber-attack has affected more than 200 000 victims in 150 countries and regions, Europol chief Rob Wainwright said on Sunday.

Hackers reportedly used a tool known as Eternal Blue and a malicious software called WannaCry to lock users’ computers and to demand a payment for the decryption.

The global cyber-attack has so far swept across more than 100 countries including the United States, Britain, Germany and China. Cyber security experts said it could be the biggest cyber-attack of its kind ever.

“Many of those victims were businesses, including large corporations. The global reach is unprecedented,” Wainwright said in an interview with Britain’s ITV.

Wainwright said he was concerned that the numbers of those affected would continue to rise when people returned to work on Monday morning.

“We’re in the face of an escalating threat, the numbers are going up,” he said, adding that the current attack was unprecedented.

Wainwright told ITV that the world faced an escalating threat, and there was concern about the level of potential attacks on Monday morning.

Wainwright warned the healthcare sector “in many countries” was particularly vulnerable, but that all organizations should ensure they prioritise cyber security and update their systems.

The virus took control of users’ files, demanding payments.

Russia and Britain were among the worst hit countries.

Dozens of Russian public institutions including the Bank of Russia said on Saturday that they have thwarted a massive cyber-attack and prevented vital data loss.

The central bank’s security and information protection division, responsible for monitoring computer attacks in the credit and financial sphere, has registered massive spread of malicious programs, but no instances of compromise were detected, said the Bank of Russia, quoted by Sputnik, a major media outlet in Russia

The Russian Interior Ministry and Health Ministry also said earlier in the day that they have “repelled” such attacks as the virus was promptly detected and localized, according to Russian news agencies.

Britain’s official emergency committee, known as Cobra, met in London on Saturday afternoon to discuss the cyber-attack that has caused widespread disruption to the country’s National Health Service (NHS).

Around 45 NHS organisations in England and Scotland, including hospitals, family doctor surgeries, and health services, were hit in the cyber-attack which prevented doctors, nurses and staff from accessing vital patient information.

However, Wainwright said Europol was working on the basis that the cyber-attack was carried out by criminals rather than terrorists, but noted that “remarkably few” payments had been made so far.

“Most people are not paying this, so there are not a lot of money being made with this by criminal organisations so far,” he said. – Xinhua/Sputnik

Source : S.A news

Uganda: Councillor Ssegirinya Holds ‘Salt’ Prayers to Curse Middle East Employers

Jocular Kawempe North Kampala Capital City Authority councillor Muhammad Ssegirinya has today perfected the ‘bush prayers’, a tradition started by his comrade-in-comical politics Mubarak Munyagwa (FDC, Kawempe South MP).

In an early morning video, Mr Ssegirinya is seen in the company of other individuals wearing the traditional Muslim men head gear, absorbed in prayers cursing tormentors of Uganda’s overseas labourers.

Mr Munyagwa controversially made the infamous “edduwa ya Kamulali,” translated to mean the hot pepper supplication, where he burnt the choking plant, praying amid the fuming smoke.

His student Mr Ssegirinya has instead replaced pepper with salt, asking God to descend his wrath on the Arab employers whom he accuses of torturing Ugandan employees.

Recently, Mr Ssegirinya claimed to have travelled to the United Arab Emirates, where he commiserated with Ugandans he said are under-going extreme abuse and exploitation.

When Mr Munyagwa said his hot pepper sprayer last year, it earned him a shouting match with the Kibuli based Muslim establishment spokesperson Sheikh Nooh Muzaata.

Mr Ssegirinya organized his controversial prayer to coincide with the International Labour day celebrations, which he said was unnecessary to celebrate in Uganda given what he termed as the suffering endured by Uganda’s workers in Middle East.

Dr Abdulhafiz Walusimbi, a Sharia expert at the Islamic University in Uganda dismissed Mr Ssegirinya’s duwa as having no legal basis in Islam.

“Such kinds of duwa are not acceptable in Islam because the Prophet Muhammad’s way of supplication was very normal, this salt duwa has no legal basis in Islam,” he said.

He added that the method employed by the cheeky politician is “intimidating but illegal.”

The acting chairperson of Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA), Ms Lillian Keene Mugerwa, recently told the Parliamentary Committee on Gender that up to 65,000 Ugandans are doing odd jobs in the Middle East.

This is 15,000 higher than the number that was working there one year ago.

Most of them are working as either cleaners, waiters/waitresses, drivers, tailors, construction and factory workers or security guards.

“Their annual contribution in the form of remittances is $400,000,” said Ms Mugerwa.

Unemployment

Due to unemployment in Uganda, some of the Ugandans now working in countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, sold family property to finance their travel to the Middle East.

Many Ugandans have been made to believe that the ‘returns’ there would be higher than they would ever make in Uganda.

In January 2016, the government banned the export of maids. The ban came on the heels of reports that many Ugandan workers were being mistreated by their Saudi Arabian employers.

According to Action Aid (2012), six in every 10 Ugandans are unemployed. Some lack the skills employers need. In other cases, the economy is not expanding as fast as the labour force.

Kenya: President Kenyatta Orders 18pc Minimum Wage Increase

Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered an 18 percent increase in the minimum wage. He said he appreciates concerns by employers on ballooning wage bills and asked Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed to hold a meeting with them to discuss non-labour factors that impact production.

“After consultation with key stakeholders, I have directed that the minimum wage be increased by 18 per cent. In addition, we have increased the non-taxable bonuses and overtime to Sh100,000,” he said at the 51st Labour Day celebrations.

President Kenyatta also told workers seeking jobs overseas to only use approved agencies.

Kenyans Stare At Bleak Future As Job Cuts Loom

As Kenyans marked the 128th international Labour Day, the country’s employment outlook continued to be bleak amid economic uncertainties.

A wave of job losses across sectors including banking, construction, media, agriculture and tourism has caused concerns, with an unpredictable future.

As the country lost its job creation momentum for the first time in four years — managing 832,900 in the formal and informal sectors in 2016 from 841,600 a year earlier — the government maintains a freeze on hiring.

AUSTERITY MEASURES

A December 2016 memo from Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich announced cost-cutting measures as it narrowed down to hiring only for essential services such as security, health and education, in the public service.

The 2017 Economic Survey shows that 747,300 of the new jobs, or 89.7 per cent, were in the informal sector, from 713,600 in 2015.

The rest, 85,600, were white collar jobs — meaning the formal employment market lags far behind the number of graduates, with more than 500,000 leaving college yearly.

JOB CUTS

The gap means Kenya’s projected working age growth by nine million in the next decade will present a big headache.

Kenyans continue to stare at looming job cuts, even as the latest data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows the economy grew at 5.8 per cent.

The private sector, which accounted for 67.2 per cent of the new formal jobs last year, expects to see more job cuts.

A recent Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) study found that a fifth of Nairobi-based firms plan staff cuts in the next six months, citing an unfavourable business climate.

Banks, microfinance institutions and transport companies foresee staff cuts arising from information technology (IT) disruption and completion of the standard gauge railway.

Other sectors expect a slowdown in growth linked to political uncertainty and harsh weather, which has depressed agriculture, the report says.

RETRENCHMENT

The worst hit in the wave of layoffs that characterised the better part of last year were banks.

The sackings, blamed on a tough economic climate, spilled into 2017.

KCB Group recently unveiled an early retirement scheme in a bid to save Sh2 billion per annum in staff costs.

The bank, whose staff count dropped by 223 last year, had carried out personnel cuts, spending Sh186 million in compensation to the affected employees.

Last October, Sidian Bank announced it was retrenching 108 workers under a voluntary retirement plan to trim its payroll.

Less than a week earlier, Family Bank had made a similar announcement, also citing costs.

The year saw more than 10 major firms implement or announce massive job cuts.

They include Kenya Airways, which started it off by sending home 600 staff, and Coca-Cola, which laid off 80 workers in July.

Airtel had started the year with an announcement to shed off 60 staff members.

INVESTORS HESITANT

The multibillion-shilling railway builder China Roads and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) shocked many when its 109 workers, based at a manufacturing factory in Kathekani, Kibwezi East Sub-County in Makueni County, were paid their monthly dues and told to leave in July.

Come this year, regional lender Bank of Africa Group closed 12 branches around the country, declaring an unknown number of its 520-strong workforce redundant.

The Sharia-compliant First Community Bank (FCB) laid off a third of its workforce — 106.

Ecobank’s decision to close nine of its 29 outlets also came with human capital consequences.

This being an election year, the situation is likely to get worse as most investors adopt a wait-and-see attitude because of political uncertainty ahead of the August 8 General Election.

Source : The Nation Nairobi

Zimbabwe: U.S. Dollar Disappears From Banking System

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Transactional activity in Zimbabwe in recent weeks indicates a slow disappearance of the United States dollar, which is being replaced by bond notes.

The bond notes were introduced last year under the $200 million export incentive to supplement dwindling dollar supplies due to weak exports.

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A survey by Standardbusiness in the central business district last week showed that banks were giving out less and less dollars, which are now available only from Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).

An FBC Bank depositor said the institution was dispensing money depending on the currency they had at the time.

“Sometimes we are given our withdrawals only in bond notes,” the depositor said.

“There used to be days when I received my withdrawals in United States dollars or bond notes while other times it was in both denominations.

“But, most of the time now we are receiving bond notes and very rarely in US dollars.”

Stanbic Bank was giving out $100 in bond notes inside the bank and another $50 in US$ from ATMs, making a total of $150 daily withdrawals.

Cabs was also giving depositors according to the available currency at that particular time.

“It depends on the branch but money is given out based on what the bank has on the particular day,” a Cabs Bank depositor who identified herself as Julia said.

The dollar has also become elusive in supermarkets where customers used to get them through the cashback facility

In an interview with our sister paper, Zimbabwe Independent, RBZ governor John Mangudya confirmed the scarcity of dollars saying banks were holding on to the currency to facilitate foreign payments.

“Each bond note in the economy represents a proportion of up to 5% of the foreign currency earned on exports generated by the economy. It stands to reason therefore that banks are retaining the bulk of foreign exchange for foreign payments,” he said.

“Bond notes will continue to circulate in the economy alongside other currencies in the multiple currency system.”

According to RBZ statistics, $94 million of bond notes are in circulation against an aggregate value of the export incentive of $107 million.

In a recent monetary policy statement, Mangudya said RBZ was putting in place a redistributable measure that mitigated against skewed concentration of bond notes within the banking sector by limiting the maximum amount of bond notes that each bank should hold at any given point in time in relation to its level and type of transactions

“This measure is necessary to ensure that bond notes are distributed proportionately according to the customer base or customer profile of each banking institution,” he said.

He said the move would ensure that bond notes continued to trade at parity with the US$ and to reflect the fact that they were supported by the $200 million offshore facility.

Source : The Standard

Uganda: Labour Exports to Middle East Up By 15, 000

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Kampala — Up to 65, 000 Ugandans are doing odd jobs in the Middle East, the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA) says.

This is 15, 000 higher than the number that was working there one year ago.

Most are working as either cleaners, waiters/waitresses, drivers, tailors, construction and factory workers or security guards.

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“Their annual contribution in the form of remittances is $400, 000,” the acting chairperson of the UAERA, Lillian Keene Mugerwa, told the House Committee on Gender, on Wednesday.

The committee had summoned the 63-member association to brief the committee on its business.

“Due to unemployment in Uganda, some of the Ugandans now working in countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, sold family property to finance their flights to the Middle East,” she said.

“Many were made to believe that the ‘returns’ there would be higher than they would ever make in Uganda.”

The government in January 2016 banned the export of maids.

The ban came on the heels of reports that many were being mistreated by their Saudi Arabian employers.

Ms Mugerwa, who was accompanied by the Managing Director of Middle East Consultants Gordon Mugyenyi, the MD of Magrib Agencies Ltd Catherine Ocen Ssabwe and the General Manager of Horeb Services Ezra Mugisha, urged the government to lift the ban on the export of maids.

They said the ban is not serving the purpose.

“The ban was put into place without taking into account the fact the majority of the workers that were complaining [of mistreatment] had been deployed by [human] traffickers,” Ms Mugerwa said.

“The few licensed companies…stopped. But as we stopped, the traffickers continued to export people to Saudi Arabia. When Saudi Arabia stopped the influx, the traffickers are now taking maids to Oman.”

Serere Member of Parliament, Patrick Okabe, concurred with the recruitment agencies and said the ban should be lifted.

“If we maintain the ban, people will find alternatives,” Mr Okabe said.

Ms Beatrice Anywar, the vice chairperson of the Gender committee called on government should address the reasons that drive Ugandans abroad.

According to Action Aid (2012), six in every ten Ugandans are unemployed.

Some lack the skills employers need.

In other cases, the economy is not expanding as fast as the labour force.

Source : The Monitor