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Carly Nyst's picture

The Zimbabwean government extended its reach into the private lives of its citizens this week by promulgating a new law establishing a central database of information about all mobile telephone users in the country. The Statutory Instrument 142 of 2013 on Postal and Telecommunications (Subscriber Registration) Regulations 2013, gazetted last Friday, raises new challenges to the already embattled rights to privacy and free expression in Zimbabwe, increasing the potential that the repressive state will spy on its citizens and further clamp down on free speech.

The approval of the Statutory Instrument clearly shows a disregard for the rights to privacy and free expression protected by the new Zimbabwean constitution. Mandatory SIM card registration eradicates the potential for anonymity of communications, enables location-tracking, and simplifies communications surveillance and interception.

In the media
Nehanda Radio
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This was the core message at the side event on the side-lines of the on-going United Nations Human Rights Council 23rd Session, hosted by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Privacy International and Association of Progressive Communications which sought to address some of the challenges in promoting privacy and freedom of expression in light of new means and modalities of surveillance and technological advances in communications.

Carly Nyst's picture

One of the first things that strikes you about the chaotic East African metropolises of Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe is the blanket of adverts for mobile phone companies that covers them, from the walls of the immigration hall at Harare airport, to the rickety shacks that line the dusty streets of Kampala. Where official signage is unavailable, DIY versions are painted onto the roofs and walls of houses and small businesses. Stores selling mobile phones are rarely more than a few short steps away, as are the clumps of cell towers that stand tall above throngs of people talking, texting and transferring money on their mobile devices. The message is clear: mobile telephony has arrived in Africa, and everyone wants - and can have - a piece of it. But at what price?

Eric King's picture

Privacy International has compiled data on the privacy provisions in national constitutions around the world, including which countries have constitutional protections, whether they come from international agreements, what aspects of privacy are actually protected and when those protections were enacted. We are pleased to make this information available under a Creative Commons license for organizations, researchers, students and the community at large to use to support their work (and hopefully contribute to a greater understanding of privacy rights).

The categories

Though the right to privacy exists in several international instruments, the most effective privacy protections come in the form of constitutional articles. Varying aspects of the right to privacy are protected in different ways by different countries. Broad categories include:

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