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Malawi to go ahead with controversial CIRMS

Malawi to go ahead with controversial CIRMS

Malawi's mobile phone operator Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) has lost a legal bid to stop the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) from implementing a Consolidation ICT Regulatory Management System (CIRMS) to monitor mobile network operators, including aspects like quality of service, revenue assurance, fraud and spectrum management.

TNM mounted a legal challenge claiming that clients feared the use of CIRMS would violate their privacy.

The operator added that it was concerned about legal action by clients if it failed to protect their privacy, one of several public service obligations as prescribed by industry regulators.

TNM obtained an injunction last month in the Malawian Court of Appeal to prevent Macra from implementing CIRMS.

The matter was taken to the Court of Appeal following the High Court's ruling which threw out TNM's application made on March 27, 2015 questioning Macra's procedure in using a USA-based company, Agilis International, to implement CIRMS.

The Supreme Court of appeal has now ruled that Macra can proceed with the monitoring system and that its use was a lawful limitation to the right to privacy, information and freedom of expression.

The Court held that the Communications Act empowers Macra to monitor the activities of its licensees in order to fulfil its statutory obligations.

Macra director general Godfrey Itaye said the monitoring system would update the Authority on the quality of service provided by mobile phone operators, as well as on revenue assurance, fraud and spectrum management.

"Macra will use the machine with utmost respect to the law and without compromise to customer confidentiality and will abide by what the court said that the machine should not be connected to access content," Itaye said.

He added that the system will be in use by September this year.

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