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.