Monday, June 12, 2006

Cross Posted at Global Voices

Zimbabwe: Announcing AI's and explaining why Zimbabwe badly needs the project, Accoustic Motorbike illustrates the impending fate Zimbabwe's bloggers face owing to the new Interception of Communications Bill;
So it all works something like this:

1) The army, police, or intelligence service decides that Jane Bloggs is a dubious character, and applies for a warrant to intercept her communications. These could include her text messages, cell phone and land line calls, emails to her known email address(es), communications sent electronically via her ISP, and post arriving at her house.

2) She is not told by any authority that an interception warrant has been issued in her name. The friendly technician at her ISP might want to give her a heads up that she is now being monitored, but given the threat of a three year prison term, is unlikely to do so. Similarly the ISP, phone company and postal workers also face a fine and/or three years jail time for not assisting the “MICC” – Monitoring and Interception of Communications Centre—with whatever information it requests.

3) Knowing the risk of her emails being watched, Jane might choose to use some kind of encryption device. But even if she did, she could at any time be instructed to hand over these passwords—or risk a fine and/or five years imprisonment.

4) With all of Jane’s text messages, emails, internet searches, etc, the state is sure to find something dubious with which they can charge her under any one of Zimbabwe’s other draconian laws—the Public Order and Security Act, the Miscellaneous Offences Act, the Foreign Exchange Controls Act, or the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, for starters. And, since it will have collected this evidence in a nicely “legal” manner, it will be able admissible in court, to strengthen whatever case the state might wish to make against her.

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