Police install hi-tech system that will help them tap cell phones and computers
Government will be privy to what Batswana think and to whom they are talking
System will help police spy on homes, offices and businesses across the country.
System targeting all cell phone and e-mail users in Botswana
System can not be detected by Mascom, Orange and their subscribers
Government is in the process of installing a high tech spying network that will help them eavesdrop on cell phone and electronic mail conversations of all citizens without a search warrant ÔÇô the Botswana Police Service confirmed this week.
The network will reach into homes and businesses across the country and will make government privy to what Batswana are thinking and to whom they are talking.
The Botswana Police Service has already started inviting tenders for the ‘supply, delivery and installation of GSM cellular and computer surveillance system.’
Under the hi-tech spying network, the Botswana Police Service will have at its disposal, information concerning personal, business and political relationships and activities of local cell phone and electronic mail users.
The tender specifies that the system “should be a totally covert operation” and should not be detected by cell phone providers (Mascom, Orange) and their customers.
Although cell phone tapping by government agencies without a court order is illegal, the system gives the Botswana Police Service technology for blanket spying.
Commissioner of Police, Edwin Batshu, told The Sunday Standard “life today is about crime intelligence led police. To be intelligence led, we certainly need the right equipment.”
He said lately Botswana is seeing a surge in crimes related to cell phones. He cited instances where criminals use cell phones to carry out the crime and instances where people are killed just for cell phones.
“We should be able to track cell phones stolen from murder victims.”
He said at the moment, they are in the process of tracing and jamming stolen cell phones hoping that this would discourage criminality related to cell phones.
He allayed fears that the system could be abused saying.
“We are putting in place measures to ensure that it is not abused. For now, we do not want to go as far as legislation.”
Batshu said the Director of CID would be charged with authorizing when the system can be used and when it should not be used. He argued that taking the decision to use the system from the hands of ordinary officers and entrusting it on the Director of CID should ensure that the system is not abused.
The system will be able to intercept calls originating from outside the country, identify the caller, his location and friends who are in the company of the caller. The system will also work on both the Non Encrypted and Encrypted networks “completely independent of the Cellular Provider.”
According to the tender specifications, the system:
* Should be of One hundred (100)-channel rack mount base or mobile unit, to intercept 100 (one hundred) fully duplex cellular telephone conversations simultaneously.
*Should have in-built tracking system of targets location, with near GPS accuracy even when target is inside buildings.