The National Communications Authority (NCA) has stated that it cannot shut down its systems to prevent the use of social media on December 7 when Ghanaians go to the polls in a crucial general election.
According to the IGP, many people use social media platforms to engage in all manner of crimes and raise false alarms, a situation which has national security implications.
Although the President, John Dramani Mahama, and many others have kicked against the position of the IGP, he still remains adamant and is using different platforms to push his agenda.
Much as the IGP’s call may be legitimate, social media and for that matter the internet, according to telecom experts and business owners, are a major backbone to the running of the economy and any attempt to shut it down could have much more negative implications.
“We even have six fibre optic cables landing on the shores of Ghana from different sources as we speak, so if you want to shut down a service it won’t be possible,” he insisted.
Companies such as Glo, Main One, MTN through the WACs, Vodafone, among many other telecom operators in the country are reliant on their own fibre optic cables from where they serve their numerous customers, including the Presidency.
Asked if the position of the NCA was because it feared a legal action, Mr Tevie was emphatic in saying, “It is not about legality, it is about the technical aspect and how the internet grew over the years in the country.”
“Now the primary method used by the majority of people in accessing the internet is through their mobile phones via data and shutting the internet down will be difficult because we have six different telephone companies and you cannot go tell them to shut down.”
Mr Tevie added, “As we speak, in Ghana there is nothing like the “kill switch” where you can just put the internet off. There is also no way we can even delay content.”
“The internet is available – it is not like a one-way street, there are so many ways people can get access to the internet even if you shut one down, they will go for another so it will be very difficult,” he explained further.
The NCA boss shared in the concerns of the IGP and gave the assurance that the NCA will help to track down any person who uses social media to forment trouble.
According to him, once the police report such incidents, the NCA will help track the perpetrators by using the IP address to see where the call or message originated and direct the police accordingly to pick up the culprits.
“Tracking sources is possible but not entirely reliable because you can track sources and it might trace you to places out of the Ghanaian jurisdiction. Every source has an IP address and it helps you know the origin of the information and the time it was sent and also you get to see the Internet Service Provider (ISP) that originated the IP address at that time,” he said.