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at govt bid to monitor private mail
The Financial Gazette (Zimbabwe)
April 21, 2006
society - frantically trying to preserve the country's shrinking
democratic space - is outraged by fresh attempts by the state to
push a new law, which seeks to monitor electronic mail and Internet
access by citizens.
from the media, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), lawyers and the
generality of civil society met in Harare last Thursday and resolved
to raise a case against the constitutionality of the Interception
of Communications Bill if passed into law.
With ZANU PF
having a clear numerical advantage in the bicameral parliament,
the bill is assured of easy passage.
In what amounts
to unacceptable invasion of personal privacy, the Bill authorises
police and intelligence chiefs to pry into private communications.
Reads part of
the draft Bill: "Under this part, the minister is authorised
to issue an inception warrant to authorised persons where there
are reasonable grounds for the minister to believe (among other
things) that a serious offence has been or will probably be committed
or that there is a threat to safety or national security of the
things, it also orders telecommunications service providers to install
hardware and software facilities and devices to enable interception
a media lawyer, described the bill as an unconstitutional piece
of legislation considering that the Supreme Court struck out certain
sections of the Postal and Telecommunications Act that were infringing
on people's freedoms.
that a number of players in the sector would be forced to close
shop due to the prohibitive costs of procuring new equipment as
demanded by certain sections of the proposed law.
looking at doing a feasibility study on its impact among ISPs but
it is clear that a number will wind up because of the huge costs
of buying the equipment, which is not available locally," said
James Holland, a representative of the ISPs. "All stakeholders
should begin now to fight the proposed law by firstly engaging ZANU
PF legislators before it is signed into law. I think it is also
imperative to petition the President (Robert Mugabe) as was done
with the NGO (non-governmental organisations) Bill. If all this
fails and it is passed into law, the last course of action is to
fight it in the courts," added Holland.
representatives described the Bill as worse than the controversial
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which has
claimed private newspapers among them the Daily News and its sister
weekly The Daily News on Sunday.
of Journalists (ZUJ) secretary-general Foster Dongozi said the union
would mount a legal challenge reminiscent of its battle against
repressive sections of AIPPA.
be the route we should take if we are to maintain our freedom of
expression because it is scary to have our emails and Internet monitored
by moles," said Dongozi.
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