Zimbabwe enacts phone tapping law

New law requires telecommunications companies to set up a central database of all their subscribers to which law enforcement agencies will have access

Zimbabwe enacts phone tapping law

World Bulletin/News Desk

A new law which came into effect on Tuesday allows Zimbabwean security agencies to spy on people's telephone calls, phone records, text messages and internet communications.

Under the new law, telecommunications companies are required to set up a central database of all their subscribers to which law enforcement agencies will have access.

According to the law, the creation of the database shall "assist law enforcement agencies in safeguarding national security," "assist with the provision of a mobile-based emergency-warning system," and "authorise research in the sector," among other things.

The legislation obliges telecommunications firms to provide data on subscribers after receiving a "written request signed by a law enforcement agent at the rank of assistant police commissioner or a coordinate rank in any other law enforcement agency."

Law enforcement agencies in Zimbabwe include the police, the secret service, and the army.

"The written notice to be issued by the law enforcement agency pursuant to subsection (2) shall indicate the rank of the official of the law enforcement agent and the purpose for which subscriber information is required," reads Section 9 (3) of the Statutory Instrument.

The new law also prohibits telecommunication companies from activating any SIM card that is not fully registered.

Providing false information, such as one's address, upon registering a SIM card is deemed an offence under the new legislation.

Legal experts, however, say the new law contradicts Section 57 of the country's constitution, arguing that it infringes on several basic civil rights, including the right to privacy of communication.

Previously, the government could only access personal phone records when it was deemed "absolutely necessary." 

In such cases, permission had to be sought through court, which was able to grant warrants for such interceptions if justifiable reasons to do so were found.

 

Last Mod: 02 Ekim 2013, 12:20
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