Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Zim army says cellphones are a danger to security

Zimbabwe early this year unveiled a proposed law that would give it authority to monitor phones and mail -- both conventional and Internet -- to protect national security and fight crime.

Rights groups say the "Interception of Communication Bill" is part of a crackdown which has included tough policing and political intimidation to stifle criticism of an economic crisis many blame on President Robert Mugabe's policies.

Chineka, who was giving evidence on the bill, said security forces would give their input before the proposed law is passed by parliament, adding that mobile operators should be given at least a month to be connected to TelOne's gateway.

"We want to listen, to make sure the nation is safe. If we liberalize the gateways then it means there would be a group of people who would communicate without our knowledge," Chineka was quoted as saying by the government-controlled daily Mirror.

Econet has the largest subscriber base in Zimbabwe and is in the process of adding a further 300,000 customers before the end of the year to take its client numbers to 800,000.

The company, listed on the Zimbabwe stock exchange, has said that if incoming traffic for customers on mobile networks is diverted to TelOne, private mobile companies would be unable to raise foreign currency to settle bills with operators overseas.

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