Law Enforcement Granted Search Authority Without Court Order
The Ethiopian government working on legislation to impose restrictions on the import and export of certain information technology products, citing “national security” concerns, according to a report in Amharic published by The Reporter, one of the major private news outlets in Ethiopia.
Under the proposed legislation, specific devices falling within this category will be prohibited from entering or leaving Ethiopia. The government is currently drafting the necessary legal framework to enforce this policy, emphasizing its alignment with national security priorities.
A draft bill was presented in the Ethiopian Parliament last Thursday, as reported by The Reporter. The news outlet underscored that while information technology offers numerous advantages, it can also pose risks to national security and the interests of the nation. The 2020 World Economic Forum’s “Global Risks Report” highlighted information technology as one of the top ten sources of threats to countries.
The existing control measures for technology product imports and exports lack clarity on identifying security risks, including those that could jeopardize national security, as per the report. Furthermore, the report revealed a lack of restrictions on products that might potentially pose a threat to national security.
The draft bill comprises 22 articles and designates technology devices with capabilities such as disrupting electronic signals, data hacking, deletion, misinformation, and theft as information technology products, subject to the proposed restrictions.
The bill defines threats as anything that could compromise the credibility, confidentiality, and accessibility of information during its collection, analysis, and storage. The National Information and Security Services (NISS), Ethiopia’s intelligence agency, will collaborate with other relevant bodies to compile a list of technology devices to be restricted.
The overseeing body responsible for implementing this new policy will have the authority to update the list to adapt to evolving technology and emerging threats.
Once approved by the parliament, this legislation will be applicable nationwide, with exceptions for the Defense Force, NISS, and Federal Police. Notably, law enforcement agencies will have the power to conduct searches, even without a court order, under specific circumstances akin to a state of emergency, as reported by The Reporter.
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