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  • Interception of Communications Bill - Index of articles

  • Zimbabwe government prepares to bug internet
    July 30, 2004

    HARARE ­ The Zimbabwe government is planning to acquire high-tech equipment from China for the purpose of bugging the internet. This is to enable it to interfere with the flow of information it considers subversive as well as the operations of independent internet based media outlets

    Authoritative sources within Posts and Telecommunications (PTC) and government circles revealed that the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) is already looking into ways of controlling internet communication as soon as the equipment arrives.

    The whole of Zimbabwe has during the past weeks been experiencing intermittent internet break-downs, which PTC management had failed to explain, according to sources at the PTC.

    'They merely said that there was work being done in upgrading or some security measures being implemented. There are CIOs that seem to have been permanently stationed at Tel One (the state owned hub for internet providers) and were carrying out some surveys in the past weeks. We understand that there are some Internet Service Providers (ISP) who have agreed to cooperate with the CIOs and let them use their domains for the tests with samples of equipment brought from China,' a PTC source said.

    Sources within the CIO said that the equipment from China is expected to be delivered next month. Government would push for the promulgation of a law allowing it to bug the internet for security reasons. President Robert Mugabe announced during the opening of parliament last week that government would introduce a bill in the house to give it powers to control communication systems for the sake of 'tightening state security'.

    An official at the Chinese embassy in Harare, Nan Xiao, said he could not discuss the matter. 'I can¹t comment on that issue of state security. If the government of Zimbabwe is taking security measures it is entirely up to them to announce them,' he said.

    Minister of State for National Security Nicholas Goche also refused to comment. 'Do you think such issues are discussed in the media? Where have you seen issues of national security being discussed in the media?'

    Tel One recently asked ISPs to sign commercial contracts obliging them to take 'all necessary measures' to prevent the transmission of illegal material on line.

    An official at an ISP in Harare, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said government would need the cooperation of service providers for it to be able to control the internet even with state of the art equipment. Therefore, the official added, it would be difficult for government to clandestinely succeed in bugging cyberspace. Zim Online

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