High Court orders Gov’t to halt collecting mobile phone subscribers’ personal information

An Accra High Court has ordered the government to stop taking the personal data of mobile phone subscribers in the country.

In a 70-page judgment delivered in Accra yesterday (July 22, 2021), the court held that the move amounts to a breach of privacy.

In 2020, President Nana Akufo-Addo signed Executive Instrument (EI) 63 2020 paving the way for Kelni GVG, a private limited liability company, to request for personal information, including subscriber database, subscriber cell reference data, uncashed subscriber mobile money transfer data, mobile money merchant codes and addresses.

This was in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the government argued that collecting personal information of clients would make contact tracing much easier.

Since the passing of the EI 63 in March 2020, the personal information of millions of mobile phone service subscribers has been collected and given to a private company, Kelni GVG.

But the court, presided over by Mrs Justice Rebecca Sittie, in her ruling directed that government deletes all such data and submit a report to the Registrar of the High Court within 14 days to protect the privacy of phone subscribers.

The court ordered Vodafone, the NCA and Kelni GVG to pay damages of GH¢ 20,000 each to the applicant.

The Case

It will be recalled that on April 6, 2020, Mr Francis Kwarteng Arthur, a private legal practitioner, went to the High Court to challenge the President’s order contained in Executive Instrument (EI) Number 63 as well as the manner in which the order was being implemented.

Counsel for the applicant, Dr Justice Sai, argued, among others, that “EI 63 offends the permissible limitation clause of the Constitution…and that the mechanism that EI 63 deploys is extremely disproportionate to the intended purpose.”

The defendants in the case are the Attorney-General, the National Communication Authority (NCA), Vodafone Ghana, MTN Ghana and Kelni GVG.


By Lawrence Odoom||Ghana

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