Back to Index
interception - Zimbabwe
August 06, 2007
the Index of articles on the Interception of Communications Bill
"The act empowers
President Robert Mugabe's government to establish an information
centre to eavesdrop on telephone conversations, open mail and intercept
faxes and e-mails."
Here I will discus from
a technical point of view as to what the Information Center and
can not do. To start with the government failed to setup up the
so called Command Center. The key reason for this failure was namely
lack of funds and lack of expertise.
So as a quick fix the
government will force ISP to install and maintain the equipment
and train its own people at their own costs.
can be intercepted?
Postal Mail - letters
this is too obvious as all the government agents need to do is wait
at the post office serving your area to open your letter before
you get it. As a result sensitive communication should never be
sent via the postman.
Faxes - Faxes can be
intercepted pretty easily by agents if of course they know your
fax number. The technology and software involved is expensive but
very possible considering the govt owns TelOne which runs the telephone
wires to the fax machines in Zimbabwe. In this instance the agents
have to physically tap directly into TelOne circuits. As a result
use of FAX for sensitive info should be avoided unless of course
you are using a cellular fax number which will in turn mean agents
will GSM provider access to intercept the cellular faxes. The best
option here is using web based faxes.
Internet faxes. These
internet faxes have an international number based in say US or UK.You
send and receive your faxes from your computer. You pay like $ 9.99
Local - E-mail
Interception of email depends on 2 specific items (i) is your email
a local Zimbabwe email or NOT. If your mail ends with .co.zw .org.zw
it is a local email. International emails are email services like
Yahoo , Hotmail , Gmail just to mention a few. To intercept your
local (Zimbabwe ) email the govt agents will only need to go to
the ISP where the email services are being hosted. Log into the
mail server and read your emails. Again the local emails are stored
in machines that reside in Harare, Byo servers being provided by
the likes of ZOL, Mweb, Telco internet etc.
email - Any of the FREE international emails are the safest to use.
The command center can not intercept them. Traffic on the web travels
in different routes every time you send a messaged. Also MOST importantly
the email services are NOT hosted in Zimbabwe but in the US or UK
or Japan etc. All you do when you open your email from Yahoo for
instance is sending a request to Yahoo with your username and password
and Yahoo will respond and push your messages onto your inbox. When
you send your username and password they are encrypted meaning it
would pointless for any person to try and intercept your login details.
Of course your must NOT have weak passwords like "father".
Your passwords must not make sense to anyone except you. A good
password will contain a variety of characters. The stronger your
password the harder for any person to guess it.
Summarily - if you are
a lawyer, journalist or someone who thinks the govt has reason to
intercept your emails - use Yahoo.com or Gmail.com or Hotmail.com.They
are free and secure - unless of course you tell someone your password.
- of course if you are using a TelOne phone tapping is pretty easy
here as the agents only need to put a wire from the CO (central
office) this is an exchange that switches your calls.
Cell phones - this can
be done of course with the cooperation of GSM providers who can
listen to your conversation from the switches.
As you can see
from above - the bill is only effective for those systems that are
operated in Zimbabwe like local email, land line. And the Bill has
no leverage to intercept what you post on the internet and the emails/faxes
you send on the internet.
Yahoo and Gmail
would be excited to hear that the agency from Zim intercepted emails
from and to their servers based in Sunnyvale and Mountain View California!
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.