Bizarre accusations over Icasa ‘leak’
Telkom attacked Icasa on Wednesday over a report that one of the authority's councillors had shared a supposedly confidential document with a third party. However, it appears the document wasn't confidential at all. By Duncan McLeod.
The supposedly confidential document that Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) councillor William Stucke allegedly “leaked” to an unnamed industry body, prompting a strongly worded statement of condemnation from Telkom on Wednesday, is, in fact, a public document.
- See update and clarification at the end of this article…
Any member of the public who wants a copy of the document is legally entitled to obtain it from Icasa, according to independent telecommunications legal expert Kerron Edmundson.
The document in question is a written interim order by Icasa’s complaints and compliance committee in a case brought by Neotel against Telkom.
TechCentral has had a copy of the interim order since June and reported extensively on the hearings and the committee’s decision. The order is not marked as confidential in any way and can be downloaded here as a PDF file.
In addition, the order was given verbally by the complaints committee, prior to the release of the written version, at a hearing attended by members of the public, including journalists.
This makes Telkom’s attack on Icasa — the statement was drafted by the company’s group executive for regulatory affairs, Andrew Barendse — all the more intriguing, especially in light of the fact that Stucke has been involved in crafting regulations that are not necessarily favourable to Telkom.
Stucke led a process earlier this year that will result in the telecoms operator paying significantly more for access to radio frequency spectrum. He has also been closely involved in crafting regulations for unbundling Telkom’s local loop of copper wires into homes and businesses. It’s well known that he has clashed publicly with Telkom regulatory executives in the past.
In its statement, which it says was in reaction to a Business Day article published on 3 August, Telkom claims it is “gravely concerned” about the alleged “leak” of information from Icasa. “As a member of the industry regulated by Icasa, Telkom is dismayed by a possible violation of due process which will unavoidably jeopardise the trust and confidence of the industry in the regulatory processes.”
In the sort of language seldom used in media statements by big companies, Telkom said it expected that “any person found responsible for such despicable conduct” would be “dealt with severely”.
Barendse on Wednesday told TechCentral that Telkom’s statement was issued in response to and was based on the article published in Business Day. “I can’t tell you more than what’s in the statement,” he said.
The newspaper said Icasa had called in the State Security Agency to investigate claims that a councillor had leaked the information to a third party. It didn’t name the source or sources of its information, in which it said Stucke was alleged to have leaked the document.
It reported that he had allegedly confessed this to the State Security Agency and that he didn’t want to comment on the matter to the newspaper.
However, Stucke told TechCentral on Wednesday the Business Day article contained a number of “serious inaccuracies” and that he did not speak to the journalist who wrote the piece prior to the publication of the article, as was claimed. “I could not have said that I had no comment,” he said.
He also said he had had “no interaction” with the State Security Agency. He said Icasa was dealing with the matter internally. He denied acting improperly but said he would “cooperate with the investigation process”.
Stucke declined to comment further. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media
Update and clarification: TechCentral had assumed, incorrectly, that Telkom had been formally given a copy of the written interim order. This informed the angle we took with the piece. It was wrong of us to make this assumption. We have published a follow-up article on this matter, which we believe provides a fairer overview of the situation. — Duncan McLeod