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Parliament protects cellphone users’ privacy

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The Zimbabwean legislative took a stand for cellphone users’ privacy yesterday when it outlawed legal provisions that allow the ZRP to approach mobile network operators and access information provided by a subscriber when registering a SIM card.

According to a report in the Herald, this ratification followed a submission of a report prepared by the Parliamentary Legal Committee against the Statutory Instrument on Postal and Telecommunications (Subscriber Regulation).

In the same session, Parliament also nullified a law compelling financial institutions to notify the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe or the Depositors Protection Board when someone wants to withdraw huge sums of cash.

In acknowledging the address of the Senate’s reservations against the statutory instruments Chairperson of the Parliamentary Legal Committee , Mr Jonathan Samukange, mentioned how his committee found the provisions in those two legal instruments to be unconstitutional as they violated people’s rights.

Thanks to the nullification from Parliament, information given to a mobile service provider by a customer is considered to be for internal use and cannot be accessed by a third party without a court order.

Essentially an officer of the law does not have automatic access to specifics which include the name and physical address of a SIM card owner without court approval. The officers have to go to court and apply to a magistrate or judge, just like any other citizen, for a search warrant.

This parliamentary action follows a previous ratification to regulations on Subscriber Registration passed in June 2014.

The new requirements compel all network operators to ensure that registration of SIM cards is accompanied by an individual’s proof residence and copies of identification particulars.This resulted in network operators disconnecting unregistered lines earlier this month.

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9 thoughts on “Parliament protects cellphone users’ privacy

  1. We are seeing a very encouraging move in ZImbabwe towards constitutionalism. First was the striking down of the libel law, and now it is no longer illegal to communicate falsehoods against the army or to “undermine” the authority of the government. Now we parliament has moved in to secure my privacy. This is important if young people are to actively get involved in discussing the feit and direction of their own country. People died so that I would not be afraid to express myself in my own country, or to worry about my privacy. I applaud this.

  2. How does this affect the situation where the police could use this information to track stolen cellphones. Not that they ever found any, but doesn’t that close that door completely now seeing how more much slower and complicated it will get?

    1. & related to that we have situations like con artists, robbers and the like who could otherwise be easily tracked (at least on paper) in the now deleted provisions

  3. Understandably not everyone is satisfied with the police but don’t just be negative. They actually have found some phones. Granted not everyone’s phone is found but I know a few people myself included who have been fortunate

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