Zim ISPs oppose email monitoring bill

By   |  June 18, 2007

Zimbabwean internet service providers (ISPs) have come out in opposition of a new bill that requires them to monitor all emails and other Web communications.

The new Interception of Communications Bill will allow government to monitor all forms of communication, including post, phonecalls, instant messages and emails.

The Zimbabwean government has likened the law to anti-terror laws in effect in the US and the UK.

According to a BBC article, the bill has still to be passed by the senate, but this is merely "seen as a formality".

Speaking to the BBC, Jim Holland, the spokesman for the Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers Association (Zispa), said: "We know it will be used against human rights and opposition activists. The government’s comparisons to terrorism is just a smokescreen."

In a plublic statement on its website, Zispa said that it had prepared a submission to the parliamentary portfolio committee on transport and communications, requesting that the bill be withdrawn pending further consultations and an examination of similar legislation and its implementation in other countries. 

Holland told the BBC that all suggested changes were ignored.

The bill will require ISPs to install hardware and software to allow for monitoring of all communications. Aside from complaints over violations of human rights and privacy, the providers are concerned about the cost of implementing the monitoring system, which has been described as "beyond businesses’ budgets".

However, under part IV of the bill there is a section saying "The telecommunication service provider shall be assisted or compensated for the assistance he or she may provide to the Authority or the monitoring centre."

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