Controversy has erupted in Nepal over the acquisition of a telecommunications interception system. The system is being advanced without adhering to proper legal protocols, and access to confidential telecommunications data such as phone call details and internet data is at the heart of the issue. A probe by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has implicated two former ministers, Janardan Sharma and Haribol Gajurel, and Chief Secretary Lok Darshan Regmi, in the procurement process.
The Controversial Procurement Process
The procurement process for the system was driven by a group who disregarded the legal and privacy implications. A Supreme Court order calling for a detailed explanation was ignored. The Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) justified the implementation of the system for the purpose of monitoring international calls and regulating VoIP services.
Legal and Privacy Concerns
Nevertheless, the legality of the system and the potential misuse of sensitive information has raised many questions. Minister Basnet's decision to proceed with the procurement has been labelled as rushed and lacking transparency. The NTA's involvement in the implementation of the system has also attracted criticism.
Current Status of the Issue
The issue is now before the Supreme Court for further consideration. Meanwhile, the political landscape in Nepal continues its tug of war between republicans and monarchists. Despite the abolition of the monarchy, the political system has not changed significantly since 1990, and numerous fundamental human rights continue to be disregarded.