Some Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) customers have expressed concern about privacy issues during conference calls, with users saying they are added to calls without their permission.

Multi-party calls allow subscribers to add users to a call simultaneously.

However, MTC says no complaints have been lodged through its customer service platforms or the telecommunications regulator.

MTC spokesperson Erasmus Nekundi has told The Namibian the company is not aware of any complaints relating to the violation of their customers’ privacy through multi-party calls.

“The multi-party conference calling service is a complimentary convenience service that enables a subscriber to communicate with multiple persons at the same time on one call. Like in a normal two-person call, any person added to a conference call can end the call and exit the conference,” Nekundi says.

“We continuously monitor the performance of our service offerings to the market for possible improvement.”

The complaints highlight a growing unease among customers regarding the handling of conference calls and the potential for unauthorised additions to these calls.

In March, lawyer Kadhila Amoomo on his Facebook page questioned how fair it is for a person to add a third party to a telephone call without the consent or knowledge of the other party.

“Privacy is a constitutional right and is a cornerstone of telecommunications. Are there features available to mitigate this?” he wrote.

‘NOT IN SUPPORT’

An MTC customer who prefers anonymity, says the service does not notify one that they are part of a conference call.

“Honestly, what type of offer or service is that which allows someone to add me to a call without my consent? You just hear another voice in a call without knowing how that person came through, and I never allowed them. No option of whether I must accept or decline,” says the customer.

“Sometimes it is honestly difficult to notice because you might not check your screen to see an active conference call. How can that not be a privacy invasion? Imagine having a tamagotchi? MTC must tell us what they are doing to protect us or give every caller the right to remove people on a call.”

Another customer, Absalom Ndimukengeli, who commented on Amoomo’s Facebook post, says: “We may challenge the legality of this at the Constitutional Court as a matter of urgency. MTC has compromised our privacy as customers.”

In support of Ndimukengeli, Victor Hipandulwa said the problem is a matter of ‘consent’.

“There should be an option for a third-party to choose whether to join a conference call or not… invitation notification should be there,” Hipandulwa says.

CONVENIENT

A customer in support of the service, who identified herself as Mine Thomas, says the idea of adding a third party is helpful if done with a good purpose.

“The bad side is to add a third party with a bad purpose, and the tricky part is that the victim doesn’t realise it.”

Thomas says MTC should notify all participants when someone has added another person to the conversation.

“In case of a crime committed, perhaps there is a life in danger, then MTC can also consider it from that angle,” Thomas says.

Customer Ennylum Nakashole says multi-party call options are a good thing.

“It is the best thing MTC has done in a long time. Let us embrace technology and not politicise everything that comes with it. To be honest, the advantages of this really outweigh the disadvantages. MTC can do a survey to see the outcome,” Nakashole adds.

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