The Data Protection Office of Mauritius operates under the aegis of the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation, since February 2009 when the Data Protection Act 2004 came into force. This office aims at protecting privacy rights of individuals.
About a month ago, Manvendra (Sherry) Singh resigned from his post of Chief Executive Officer of the Mauritius Telecom. The next day, he revealed on TéléPlus/Radio Plus that he resigned because the Prime Minister, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, had instructed him to allow a foreign third-party to install a sniffing equipment at the Baie Jacotet Submarine Cable Landing Station (SCLS).
The Baie Jacotet SCLS is where the South Africa Far East (SAFE) submarine cable lands in Mauritius.
The days that followed, several more revelations were made.
P. K. Jugnauth himself revealed that he asked the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, to send a technical team from India to carry out a survey at the landing station. At no point does Jugnauth give details on the nature of the survey or the precise reason that required a survey at the landing station. He only cites "national security" to hide away from questions.
Jugnauth also confirmed that Singh had refused to give access to the landing station, hence he phoned him. Later Singh allowed access.
Singh made further revelations in subsequent interviews, thereby stating that a three-member technical team was accompanied to the Baie Jacotet SCLS by the Chief Technical Officer of Mauritius Telecom, Girish Guddoy on 15 April 2022. The Indian technicians attempted to capture data from the SAFE consortium equipment which is provided by Alcatel Submarine Networks. They failed to do so twice. Thus, they captured data on eleven links of Mauritius Telecom instead. As per Singh, the Indian technicians in a meeting in his office on 14 April 2022 had informed that they intend to capture a 2 mins internet traffic data from the SAFE cable.
The allegation of allowing a foreign state to sniff internet traffic in Mauritius has been refuted by the Prime Minister.
Today, Subramanian Moonesamy, who is well reputed in the internet community, sent an email to the Data Protection Office citing the 36th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners.
S. Moonesamy mentioned that one of the results of the conference was a resolution of Big Data that states —
To be transparent about which data is collected, how the data is processed, for which purposes it will be used and whether or not the data will be distributed to third parties.
The conference was hosted by Mauritius in 2014.
S. Moonesamy stated in the email that several newspapers in Mauritius have featured a data capture at the Baie Jacotet cable landing station. He asked the Data Protection Office whether the 2014 Resolution is relevant to the data capture at Baie Jacotet.
S. Moonesamy is a Cryptographic Officer of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. He is a Trusted Community Representative of the DNS technical community. He is involved in the DNSSEC key signing process of the root zone.
He has drafted internet standards for the Internet Engineering Task Force. He is currently Board Director for AFRINIC for Seat 3 – Indian Ocean.