Sam George is Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram

The Minority in Parliament is accusing government of abusing the Executive Instrument (E.I) that allows it to gather personal mobile telecommunication data in the fight against Covid-19.

Ningo Prampram MP Samuel George claims data outside what is required for the Covid-19 fight is being gathered by government for political gains.

The E.I. 63 was issued by the president about six months ago under the Imposition of Restriction Act to help government contact trace suspected Covid-19 patients.

At a sitting of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Thursday, the Data Protection Commission said it is working with some state agencies to prevent the abuse of rights and privacy of customers.

But Mr George claimed that is not happening and customers’ data is being accessed by government illegally.

“The Executive Director made the point that they were not working with all the implementers of E.I 63. That should be a source of worry for us that clearly some state agencies have access to our data that are not under the supervision of the Data Protection Commission.

He wants the Executive Instrument revoked as he raises questions with the basis for the Instrument’s formulation.

He cited some incoherences between Article 18 (2) of the Constitution and Section 100 of the Electronic Communication Act as the basis for his argument.

Section 100 of the ECA states that “The President may by executive instrument make written requests and issue orders to operators or providers of electronic communications networks or services requiring them to intercept communications, provide any user information or otherwise in aid of law enforcement or national security.”

But Mr George explained that the act is with respect to “a user.”

“So when you have E.I 63 that then gives a state agency under the direction of the President to gain access to all users’ data, that is not what the constitution says…so at the end of the day you realise that E.I 63 is an afront to the constitution and the act of parliament.”

But Communications Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful said the claim amounts to fanciful fears.

“Some people with diabolical and devious minds have sat there and conjured all kinds of fanciful scenarios and assumed that everybody thinks like them. We are focused on fighting this pandemic with science and data,” she said.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful told JoyNews the Executive Instrument is still relevant for the continuous fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“What the law is requiring is the merchant code of those who are using mobile money to be also included in the information that EI 63 is collecting. How is that information going to help anybody’s political campaign.”

She, however, added that it is impractical on the part of the Ningo Prampram MP to suggest that the government must pull the brakes on the operationalisation of the Instrument.