Deep Dive into CITRA’s Tender: Internet Surveillance and More

MP Jenan Bushehri has criticized the tender floated by Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA) for developing Kuwait International electronic portal. She said the tender is against the Constitution as it is aimed at monitoring the Internet users. She cited certain points in tender book as follows: Page 42- CITRA is looking for a solution to expand the current inspection capacity of the Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) and make sure the Internet traffic in Kuwait is monitored. Page 47- CITRA aims to develop its capability to classify and control social media applications, including WhatsApp, to suspend calls on this application and allow text messages only. Page 63- CITRA wants to monitor the Internet users, specify the applications and kinds of devices they use, and determine their geographic location. Page 74- CITRA is allowed to copy the activities of users and their data, and send them to a third party. Page 75- CITRA wants to control the number of users who can access certain social media applications. Bushehri pointed out that the aim of CITRA is crystal clear — to force users to utilize channels which can be monitored, stressing WhatsApp calls cannot be infiltrated.

She added the tender is aimed at monitoring and spying on citizens; indicating that CITRA can slow down the Internet service, minimize the number of users, and gain access to a specific application in case the citizens are conducting a campaign against the government. She wants to know the legal basis for CITRA to obtain the users’ data and then send the information to a third party without the users’ permission, wondering who is the third party. She revealed she did her own research and found out that only the countries against democracy and freedom are using such technology. She warned that once this tender is settled, Kuwait will join the countries which are against freedom and democracy. She hopes CITRA will not justify the tender by issuing manipulative and misleading statements; such as “the aim of the tender is to develop the Internet, reduce cost and prohibit suspicious websites.”

She said these are the justifications of governments, which adopted the technology, to conceal the actual objectives — to monitor and spy on individuals for security reasons. She asserted that the tender is unacceptable despite the positive aspects, because there is no justification for monitoring and spying on citizens. She urged Minister of Communications Fahd Al-Shullah to fulfill his oath to defend the citizens’ freedom and protect the Constitution. She advised him not to listen to the voices of those claiming that nullifying the tender is a sign of weakness. She emphasized that the cancellation of the tender is one way of protecting the Constitution.

She then unveiled her plan to take action if the minister dodges his responsibility, stressing this is part of her constitutional commitment.

On the other hand, MP Hassan Jawhar has forwarded queries to Minister of Finance Fahad Al-Jarallah about the news published by Al-Jarida daily on Aug 6 and Aug 30, 2023 that the Central Bank of Kuwait has obtained approval from the Finance Ministry to increase its reserve cash from KD1 billion to KD5 billion as a precautionary measure and to prepare for the gloomy future of markets. He said the Central Bank took the same step in 2003 and 2014 as per the recommendation of its Board of Directors. If this news is true, the lawmaker requested for a copy of the decision of the board, including the justifications for increasing the cash reserve to KD5 billion. He wants to know the legal basis for approving the request, if this approval includes allowing the Central Bank to keep all or a portion of the profits until the cash reserve reaches KD5 billion, period required to increase the cash reserve to KD5 billion, and if the impact of this move on the financial status of the State was taken into consideration after allowing the Central Bank to stop putting the profits to public treasury. He added the news also confirmed approval of the request of Kuwait National Petroleum Corporation (KNPC) to keep the profits for fiscals 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 in order to invest them in developing the capacity and oil production of KNPC. He asked about the legal basis for this approval; considering the the Higher Oil Council is authorized to give such approvals, not the ministry as per Article 12 of law number 6/ 1980 on the establishment of KNPC. He also inquired if the probability of budget deficits in the next fiscal years was considered.

MP Adel Al-Damkhi asked Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahd why the Foreign Equipment Supply Department in his ministry still exists even if the Armament and Equipment departments were established as per ministerial decision numbers 713/2015 and 660/2017. He said the Armament Department has been tasked to carry out the duties of the Foreign Equipment Supply Department. He also demanded for the list of military projects, including design and construction, from fiscal 2015/2016 till date; cost and achievement percentage of each project; copies of the approval of the Military Purchase Committee in the Defense Ministry, advertisement of each tender, price offers, winning bid, Finance Ministry’s approval of the budget for each project, approval of the Legal Advice and Legislation Department, approval of the State Audit Bureau and the contracts.

MP Majed Al-Mutairi forwarded queries to Minister of Justice and State Minister for Housing Affairs Faleh Al-Raqaba about the implementation of the law on canceling the local agent requirement for foreign companies to establish enterprises in the country. He inquired if it is true that the Central Agency for Public Tenders approved the tender for the third phase of the Kuwait International Airport project without enforcing the abovementioned law. If yes, he wants to know the reasons, name of the local agent, this agent’s role in the implementation of the third phase of the project and estimated cost of the third phase. He also requested for the list of projects that the foreign contractor and the local agent completed earlier, as well as the bid of the winning foreign contractor compared to the other bidders.

Source- Arab Times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *