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Econet’s intention to launch BlackBerry courts the state’s interest

BlackBerry

BlackBerryOver the past few months, information in the ICT sector has been suggesting Zimbabwean mobile operators are working to get RIM’s BlackBerry services on the local networks. Reports like this one on Telecel we did in December last year.

It’s not clear how much progress Telecel has made seeing the engineer said to be working on the BlackBerry project ran into some nasty problems with Zim’s immigration authorities in January.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been getting tips that Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is working on launching BlackBerry Internet Services on its network. So far the word from Econet is that preparations, including training, are pretty advanced and the company should launch “very” (Econet’s emphasis there) soon.

Today, the state owned weekly ran a business front page article on the subject titled “BlackBerry services for Zim… as clashes loom over encryption keys”. The article notes the need to clear BlackBerry services with the telecoms regulator and the government as the core system will be based outside the country and its data heavily encrypted. According to the article,

Econet Wireless must also engage the regulator, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) and government in order to ensure that his unique product is in sync with the country’s laws, especially the Interception of Communications Act (ICA).

ICA makes it mandatory for a telecommunications service provider to install hardware and software facilities and devices to enable interception of communications

Furthermore, the telecommunications service should store communication-related information and be connected with the communication-monitoring center or alternatively be re-routed to the monitoring center.

For its part Econet has advised that the service launch will be done in close consultation with the regulatory authorities the same way they do with all product launches.


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30 thoughts on “Econet’s intention to launch BlackBerry courts the state’s interest

  1. lm 1000% behind government to have access to RIM communication and l would suggest the servers must be hosted in Zimbabwe to fully comply with local laws.

    This should not be viewed as politics at all or any other Human Rights noises, this is national security full stop.
    Before people start, in there national security procedures, all these have full access to RIM communication within their countries:
    UK – GCQH and MI6
    USA- NSA
    India
    Saudi Arabia
    Qatar
    lndonesia
    Just to name but a few, so there is nothing that have to surprise people in Zimbabwe.

      1. All those you have mentioned with the little exception of google use plain text communication by default. l said little exception because only google have been trying to make people aware of the fact that they can use SSL encryption for their mail communication.

        All these big three are the same because they adapt to local interception laws of there hosting country. Have you ever heard how Google and Yahoo have been facilitating the arrest of those who opposed communist in China. When confronted about it, what did google and yahoo said?

        Unlike them three, RIM servers are based in Canada and to make matters worse or scary, they have only given USA, Canadian and UK security services full access keys. Why then not every security services?

        lndia, Saud Arabia Thailand, Iran and a few countries were only given access to the servers RIM installed in those countries. So Zimbabwe should be asking the same, if not, l say no to RIM.

        1. Fella, I’m with you here. Most western nations employer stiffer requirements on interception of data in the name of protecting themselves against terrorist attacks.

          thing is sounding like we’ve just woken to realise RIM’s encryption is the only unbreakable encryption there is then we do sound like we’re just politicking.

          Just how much of current external communications are fully compliant with the ICA?

          1. Ok, l get you Kabweza. l guess as internet become more easily accessible to the masses, the more our security services are gonna be more interested in monitoring communications.

      2. Zim Gov doesn’t want to host anything they want to “intercept” information. fairly reasonable considering that everyone else (USA) is doing it! We don’t need to host Yahoo and Google I’m sure we can intercept them already. Considering that USA probably does more to monitor our(Zim) info than we do, we might as well do the same!

  2. @Macd freedom of speech is not something that should just exist in a document called the constitution that our beloved Zimbabwe spent $20 million creating… it should exist in practice too. Should government have a big brother role, yes but should gvt control who says what NO…. i say again we are of very little consequence in the big scheme of things in world politics..

  3. Unfortunately in the real world there is no freedom of speech which takes precedence over national security, l have yet to witness any country which respect freedom of speech by its citizens above of its national security needs.

    imagine this: A hostile foreign intelligence operative marries a Zimba for the purpose of gaining citizen, once he gets it, he /she starts communicating back to his/her controller using RIM and at the same time being accorded freedom rights as per constitution.
    The question is, should the government respect its constitution or its national security.?

    1. while i agree that national security is important why should one just focus on the internet.. just look at how porous our borders are and the amount of corruption that exists there. one might say the internet is the biggest thing to happen since sliced bread and i would agree but i mean look at countries surrounding us not far east or west.. south africa, botswana they all respect their consititution it is the basis in my opinion for national pride. let’s stop this business of because we don’t agree your opinion musn’t be heard..

      1. Closing borders is expensive, intercepting information is much cheaper why don’t we start with what we can afford?

    2. Spot on MACD!!! Most rights and freedoms don’t exist anywhere else except on the papers they where written on! In the USA you can get arrested for sending a text message that the Gov feels is a threat to National Security and get no trial for a year! Their constitution says the exact opposite! Whose complaining?

  4. We all know what is “national security” and national security. So debating this is a waste of time. Most countries lack geeks and equipment sophisticated enough for security analysis on a high level (which means as Kabweza pointed out, that intercepting RIM services is not gonna be of any meaningful disadvantage because we are technologically a decade behind), so what makes it sudenly imperative and make so much noise. Of course, its national security (what else). Lol.

    1. If you can’t afford an electric fence and a gate at your house does it mean you can’t lock the door?

    2. If you can’t afford an electric fence and a gate at your house does it mean you can’t lock the door?

  5. the monitoring of communication traffic already slows down traffic in zim adding woes to a system already seriosly compromised by inadequate infrastructure.while i might understand the national security point of view, maybe it would be better if they upgraded the monitoring centre then start thkin abt monitoring traffic from such

    1. Do you realize that monitoring info is also helpful when it comes to monitoring and stopping corporate and civil crime? Soon internet fraud is going to be a real threat in Zim and we can’t let RIM be an open avenue!

      1. do u know that the majority of gvt officials make use of Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail for their communications? It is far worse than having RIM coming into zim. it simply means Federal Law can grant Americans access to those emails. Not only that,they are not the most secure platforms for communications.

        with that still in mind, even with the so called monitoring, lots of these free emailing services can securely transmit information that cannot be tapped.

        it is easy to also set up encryption for your email on a server level.

        do u get where i am going? the real threat is not RIM. it is very difficult to monitor all those disparate systems and platforms, transmitting who-knows-what format or data, encrypted, secured or not.

        1. All Encryption algorithms are vulnerable to brute force attack. Given enough time and computing power. any encryption algorithm can be cracked, factoring in the availability of quantum computing

          And it is believed that every American encryption made algorithm have a back-door known by the NSA. This is true because for any company to export encryption outside America, it have to approved by USA gvt(read NSA) and it has to have weaker keys.

          Just read how RSA have their Token SecureID and code stolen, you will get the picture.

  6. Security should not be an after-thought in IT and business as implementing it after becomes more expensive, laborious and time consuming. Security must be inbuilt together with whatever IT equipment of the present time.

    Looking at the aspect of slowing the internet, it deepens on how its done. If its done inline, then yes it might but if its done like SPAN, then no it does not. But monitoring alone does not slow internet down, the most common is misconfiguration, network viruses and DoS.

    So l still say yes to monitoring RIM network

  7. Do you want to oppress and suppress me online as well, i know Macd and i know where you work and i know where your loyalties are, but PLEASE, give us a break and dont bully us herein. We have a right to communicate with whoever w=and whomever we want ….and there is not a damn thing you can do about it. And for the record, i already enjoy unsurpassed Blackberry services…without your interference as your monitoring systems are archaic. This ….the internet is the only place where i can pee without you with your 10 eyes drooling….for once, give us some freedom….which you took away since 1980.

    1. This has nothing to do with loyalties or politics and it shouldnt be emotional either. Do you realize that Zim is one of the countries that has the least intrusive monitoring infrastructure in the World. In the UK they are camera’s outside your house, on the road to work, outside your workplace and above your desk and at the coffee shop and all ATMs! RIM is intercepted there as well. Politics and emotions aside lets be reasonable, logical and fair about this.

      The question we maybe should be asking is will the interception be done responsibly? But at the end of the day tell me one country that does it responsibly?

      1. I’ve observed something which seems universal among Zimbabweans: that knowing there’s someone out there worse-off than you is somehow consoling. Just because they have pervasive CCTVs in the UK does not mean we have the best system in place. If your neighbour punches his wife, your wife shouldn’t rejoice because you only go as far as slapping her.

        I’m curious to know why everyone seems so eager to have their communications intercepted. How does it help you, as a private citizen, to have your communications intercepted by at an unknown government location without any known oversight? Does it add any value to your life?

    2. u knowing where he is, whom he is, whom he works for really has no bearing your healthy debate. lets try not to soil this website with too much politics. granted, we cannot ignore politics but lets try keep it subtle and nerdy. 🙂

    3. Grow up, where do l come in on you being censored, lm not difficult to know if you are technical enough and as a professional l dont hide my identity, ask politely and you will know me even in person because from your writing, you have no clue at all who lm.

      This site is for technical grouping and sharing ideas, if you are not technical, why dont you just read quietly probably you might learn something.

      Using Blackberry does not mean you are using there approved networks in Zimbabwe, which means if your ISP you are using are pressed by law, they can easily cut you off without even bothering to monitor you.

  8. Are we any further forward with this issue?  Most people just want their BB to have the usual services that come with the phones!!

  9. The sooner we realise that govt needs to facilitate not drag development the better, so far, it is dragging it 10yrs back. We dont have RIM services, broadband speeds too slow, ict too expensive, broadcasting a shame, no intnl servers of big it companies hosted in zim ie google, microsoft etc. we got no online credit payment platforms, no e-commerce, no e-medicine, no e-learning, parliamentarians can hardly type let alone understand what a social network is. We are  donkey years back & the last thing we need is an authority that takes 12 months to decide on a simple issue as rim listening technology. SO many countries do it, nothing amazing, lets just do nit & move on for technology sake…no wonder we got so much unemployment. No clue that IT can employ thousands of hungry youths by a simple stroke of a ministers pen. Argggggggg Zimbabwe

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