In today’s digital age, every word spoken on a phone can be intercepted, tapped, recorded and leaked to the public.
Our smartphones store sensitive information, track location and other digital functions.
The Nigerian Constitution in Section 37 provides for the protection of the privacy of Nigerian citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications.
While the constitution does not clarify how the privacy of Nigerians should be protected, it is advisable to seek consent from all participants before recording phone calls and conversations.
In 2019, the Nigerian Communications Commission published the Lawful Interceptions of Communications Regulations, 2019, a supplement to the Nigerian Communications Act 2003.
The regulations give power to law enforcement agencies to intercept communications provided by communication licensees (communications companies). Authorised agencies are required to first obtain a warrant from a judge.
Ideally, phone conversations are supposed to be private and confidential but conversations and information on phones can be misused to monitor, stalk, or control. Trust your instincts if you suspect that someone is monitoring your phone.
Politicians are some of the most high-profile targets for espionage and blackmail.
Of recent, a leaked audio generated controversy on social media. An alleged telephone conversation between Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, and David Oyedepo, the founder of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, was leaked to the public.
In the alleged audio clip, Obi asked Oyedepo to help spread his message to Christians in the South-west and parts of North-central, describing the 2023 election as a “religious war”.
While the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has denied allegations of hacking and tracking phone conversations, it has now become imperative for users to be conscious of their conversations.
Here are few tips on how to ensure your phone conversation does not get leaked:
_1. Always be aware of strange behavior when using phones and applications as they can indicate that it has suffered some type of attack and your data may be at risk.
_2. Applications such as Whatsapp and Telegram exhibit some malfunction. For example, be aware of the following behaviors: the application asks you to re-login frequently, conversations with unknown people, messages disappear for no reason, appearing or being viewed without your knowledge.
_3. Enable the two-step verification option in your applications and perhaps your mobile device.
_4. Lock your cell phone screen so that it is not easy for anyone to access it.
_5. Avoid keeping sensitive data on your smartphone, including personal photos, documents and other items whose loss causes major inconvenience.
_6. Do not store files with access credentials (login and password) from banks and other applications on your cell phone, use specific tools for this purpose;
_7. Be very careful with public Wifi networks. It is possible that they have security flaws that make it possible to intercept the data that travels through it (in these cases, choose to use your data plan).
_8. Do not respond to unknown numbers and suspicious messages. In some cases, it is enough for you to answer for the criminal to have access to your data;
_9. Pay attention to “social engineering”, a very common term nowadays. Avoid passing on data to unknown people who make contact with you via cell phone and also avoid exposing too much information about yourself and your routine on social networks.
_10. Be vigilant about spyware, use secure messaging and calling apps, and avoid discussing sensitive information on public phone lines. And most importantly, remember that in today’s digital age, privacy is important.