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A "spying" bill that would allow the Zimbabwean government to intercept mail, phone calls and emails without having to get court approval was signed into law on 3 August by President Robert Mugabe, reports the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).

Under the "Interception of Communications" law, service providers will be forced to install "enabling equipment" on behalf of the government, which would allow senior intelligence, police and revenue officials to intercept telephone, email and cell phone messages through a newly created central monitoring agency.

MISA called 3 August a "sad day for Zimbabweans." "The government has refused to open the airwaves, closed newspapers and, as if that is not enough, it now wants to pry into people's conversations," MISA says. "This is simply an indication of a government that is afraid of its own citizens."

MISA is looking at mounting a constitutional challenge against the law in the Supreme Court.

Visit these links:
- "IFEX Communiqué" on the bill:
(7 August 2007)

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