Back to Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
Interception of Communications Bill - Index of articles
at Zimbabwe bugging plan
August 31, 2006
and civil society groups have expressed anger at a proposed law
to monitor communications.
The bill proposes
a monitoring centre, apparently with Chinese technology, that would
eavesdrop on telephone, internet and other communications.
says the bill is similar to anti-terror laws elsewhere to protect
people from organised crime.
public hearings on the Interception
of Communications Bill on Wednesday amid heated exchanges.
"One of the
key obligations on internet service providers (ISPs) is to install
equipment which would allow them to interface between the ISP and
the monitoring service," Jim Holland, spokesman for the Zimbabwe
Internet Service Providers' Association, told the BBC News website.
would have to be installed at the expense of the ISP.
Mr Holland said his organisation would seek clarification on whether
the bill applied to all companies that provide internet services
to the public.
Zimbabwe had the technological capacity to implement the changes
proposed in the bill, Mr Holland said: "I would imagine it is now
here. There are obviously now close links with the Chinese, who
are specialists in the interception of radio and internet communication."
calls are already monitored.
"The Posts and
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said the interface was already
there - all that is required is to connect to the monitoring centre,"
Mr Holland said.
communication is nevertheless more complicated than monitoring phone
calls, and Zimbabweans using an encrypted overseas-based webmail
service would be able to avoid bugging by the authorities in Zimbabwe.
has defended the proposal in the name of national security.
in technology today means that no one is safe at all from the source
of terrorism, mercenarism and organised crime," Brig Gen Mike Sango
of the Zimbabwe Defence Force told the hearing.
"A piece of
legislation has been long overdue on this particular problem."
concerns that the bill does not make provision for decisions to
be reviewed by the judiciary.
person is given a right to appeal to the Minister (of Transport
and Communications), who is neither independent nor impartial. He
authorises the interception and monitoring in the first place,"
argued Wilbert Mandinde, legal officer of the Media
Institute for Southern Africa in Zimbabwe.
Movement for Democratic Change agreed: "It seems to give carte blanche
- the minister is the judge and the jury, it violates the whole
concept of the separation of powers," said MDC legal adviser Jessie
A special report
will be tabled before parliament after the public hearings.
Mugabe's government already faces criticism for laws that curtail
free speech and movement.
Mr Holland said
the lack of judicial oversight in the bill was similar to certain
provisions of an earlier communications law that were overturned
by the High Court in 2004 on grounds of being unconstitutional.
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.