Zimbabwe: Service providers setting up spy equipment


Mobile and internet service providers (ISPs) have begun installing surveillance equipment, in compliance with the controversial Interception of Communications Act, the Zimbabwe Internet Access Providers (ZIAP) confirmed this week.

ZIAP is a grouping comprising Econet’s ecoweb, TelOne’s comone and Telecontract’s Telconet. “We are in the process of complying. We are putting in place projects to see that we comply,” said ZIAP chairman Shadreck Nkala.

Nkala declined to reveal the costs involved in installing the equipment, or where the eavesdropping equipment is being sourced, saying: “We do not discuss that.”

Industry sources say mobile phone companies have also begun importing the equipment necessary to give government access to data, calls and other information.

The Interception of Communications Act will establish a hub, known as the Monitoring of Interception of Communications Centre, which would be the sole facility through which authorised interceptions would be effected.

Heads of service providers who do not comply with the new law face imprisonment of up to three years.

Part of the Act reads: “A telecommunication service provider is required to install hardware and software facilities and devices to enable interception of communications and also that the telecommunication service can store communication-related information and how the service could be connected with the communication monitoring centre or the manner in which information can be re-routed to the monitoring centre.”

“The telecommunication service provider shall be assisted or compensated for the assistance he or she may provide to the Authority or the monitoring centre.”

The spying law says persons who are authorised to make applications for interception of communications include the chiefs of Defence and Intelligence, the Director-General of the President’s department of national security, the Commissioner of Police and the Commissioner-General of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.

(source: Financial Gazette)