Monday, October 26, 2020

New Year’s resolution: Throw away your computer and cell phone

If it is privacy you want, then your new year’s resolution should be to throw away your cell phone and computer.

Picture this: You have just tested positive to HIV, you wish to confide in a friend through an e-mail or phone and your secret ends up as gossip in the corridors of local police stations.

That is what a lot of Batswana face in 2007 when government installs a high tech spying network that will help them eavesdrop on people’s cell phone and e-mail conversations.

The Government has instituted a major shift in Botswana’s intelligence-gathering practices and for the first time in their lives, Batswana will no longer have privacy behind their closed doors and will always be wondering:

“Is someone, right this minute, watching my key strokes? Reading my e-mail? Listening to whom I talk to over the phone?”
How about all of the above ÔÇô and more?

The spy 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.

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 phone and e-mail users.

The Ministry of Presidential Affairs has also published the Intelligence and Security Service Bill. Under the proposed law, the State President would appoint a super spy – the Director General of Intelligence and Security – who will be responsible only to him and whose main function would be “to investigate, gather, co-ordinate, evaluate correlate, disseminate and store information” inside and outside the country.

The Minister of Local Government, Margaret Nasha, published the Bill on the November 3, 2006, while she was acting as Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration.

According to Nasha, the purpose of the law is to detect any threat or potential threat to national security and to advise the President and the government on these threats – political, military or economic – while also taking steps to protect the security interests of Botswana.

She said the reason for drafting the law was because the country faces a number of threats or potential threats to its national security, political systems and its economy, all of which may be destabilized through subversive activities from the country’s detractors”.

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