If you missed our discussion last week you might want to do a quick catch up because we’re going to further highlight certain key features of the Lawful Interception of Communications Regulations (LICR) introduced in that article. So please take that break – we’ll be waiting.
We shall quickly start our discourse by stressing that any interception of communication that is not in accordance with the provisions of the regulations or any other enactment in force in the country is an offence – See section 3 of the LICR.
a. Interception without a warrant; and
b. Interception with a warrant.
The key consideration in cases where an interception is to be done without a warrant is that there must be proof of consent by either of the parties to the communication. This also applies where the intended recipient consents to such interception by a third party. See section 4 of the LICR.
However, where an interception is in the interest of national security, preventing or investigating a crime, protecting and safeguarding the economic wellbeing of Nigerians, public emergency or public safety etc., a warrant must be obtained from a Judge. See section 5 of the LICR.
Of course this is a major step for law enforcement agencies in the country – the National Security Adviser, State Security Service, Nigeria Police Force etc. – in the fight against threats to cyber security. We prefer this perspective in view of the fact that many traditional crimes have now assumed astonishing technological dimensions.
In what seems to be a safeguard against potential abuse of power, any person or licensee who is aggrieved by any interception activity shall notify the Nigerian Communications Commission in writing and may then make a formal application to the court for judicial review – See section 17(1) of the LICR. Section 15 also imposes a duty of secrecy on law enforcement agencies or persons involved with the implementation of the regulations.
In concluding our discourse this week, we must state that what has been discussed here is not exhaustive. If you’d love to get more details on the draft legislation, you can grab it here. We do hope that these regulations, when fully operational, will go a long way in assisting relevant agencies in providing better security against ICT facilitated crimes.