According to a new report, the Federal Government of Nigeria intends to acquire two new satellites to add to the existing satellites — Nigeria Sat 1 and Nigeria Sat-X (Built exclusively by Nigerian scientists) — in the orbit.
However, inside sources at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) via the Independent reported that one of the proposed satellites has eavesdropping capabilities. According to him, “The satellite can capture signals from all telecommunication installations in areas it is tasked to cover. What this means is that things like voice calls, video calls, e-mails can be captured.”
The intended move has made Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) push for a FOI (Freedom of Information) request on Nigeria’s Eavesdropping Satellites.
According to PIN’s Tolu Ogundipe:
… We call on the Federal Ministry of Communications to provide all the details involved in the building and launching of the two new satellites for the Nigerian government. As we have stated in the freedom of information request sent to the Ministry on February 2, 2017, the scaling up of the number of satellites in space may be noble but in order to ensure that this is done with utmost regard to digital rights of every Nigerian, every stakeholder, including the Ministry, must all act as watchdogs for our digital rights.” She continued, “Even though there have been insinuations that these satellites are capable of eavesdropping on the communications of most Nigerian citizens when finally launched, we believe that the Ministry understands this to be an erosion on the fundamental human rights guaranteed by Section 37 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
On the flip side, Nigeria’s satellite project is supposed to help with security, delineating electoral constituency, agriculture, climate change, mitigation of disaster and environmental monitoring.