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MISA concerned that plan to register mobile phone subscribers may be used to intimidate media sources, compromise free expression

(MISA/IFEX) - On 9 July 2008, the Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA) announced that prepaid subscribers of mobile phones will be registered as of 15 September to curb, among other things, mobile phone crimes.

BTA Chief Executive Thari Pheko vehemently denied suspicion that the move could be related to the newly established Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) and noted that the authority is merely following international trends.

The registration process is expected to be completed by 31 December 2009 and those not registered by that time will be disconnected.

MISA-Botswana hopes the measure will not be abused by the DIS which could use it to intimidate media sources. Freedom of expression could be compromised if the spy agency were able to access the facility on issues not related to crime. This is not helped by the looming draconian media practitioners' bill, which media regard as anathema to media freedom.

For further information on the media practitioners' bill, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/95125

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