ZICTA has sensationally revealed that it is able to disable any communication devices and read personal messages.
The revelation is likely to unsettle many social media users especially that platforms such as WhatsApp have end-to-end encryption which ensures that only the sender and the person receiving can read what is sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp.
On WhatsApp, messages are secured with a lock, and only the recipient and the sender have the special key needed to unlock and read the message.
In recent years, some tech companies with very large user-bases have been championing user privacy.
For instance, Apple and WhatsApp recently challenged law enforcement authorities’ demands to weaken their security system and/or access encrypted data.
Apple most visibly in the San Bernardino case when Apple resisted demands by the FBI that it writes a new version of its OS to weaken the security of the terrorist’s iPhone.
But ZICTA Director for Consumer Protection Mofya Chisala has also disclosed that the authority has a good working relationship with Facebook and Google in order to protect internet users in Zambia.
Mr Chisala said Communications and Transport Minister Brian Mushimba envisions an ICT sector that is well disciplined.
He said Zambia would have a lot of problem if it allowed people to do what they want online.
Mr Chisala was speaking when he featured on the Hot FM Red Hot Breakfast show on Wednesday to clarify on the raid at CEC Liquid Telecom and other IT firms in Lusaka.
“You know there have been a lot of social media pages, cloning, hate speech and the exchange of pornographic material and the ICT Act is very clear on some of these things. Now we have moved into gear to ensure that even taking you to court, we are going to ask for the maximum penalty because we don’t want a few people to twist the hand of government to now start putting in laws to start restricting people’s use of the internet. That is unnecessary, the Internet is one tool that can be used for businesses, research, communication and other things,” Mr Chisala said.
He added, “So we have now gone into gear and we are now going to visit all those we find wanting to ensure that the ICT sector is one that other countries can be proud of and come to learn from.”
“I always wish to remind people that with great power comes great responsibility. When you sit in your room on your Ipad or your phone and you start commenting, writing and rubbishing people, you know, we will catch up with you.”
Mr Chisala said the ZICTA of today has realised that collaboration and education is not the only way to go hence the need to increase on enforcement of the law.
“I think we need to switch up, turn the heat up. We are now following every lead we have and we will get to you. A very good example, a lot of you lose your phones, your laptops and when the police find them in a raid or if it is stolen, what we have to do to know if it belongs to you is that we will have to go through it and now instead of giving you back your stolen item, we will have to arrest you because even if you have deleted anything, we have equipment that can bring back everything that was deleted,” Mr Chisala explained.
He added, “So if somebody is disturbing you or harassing you on social media, come and report to ZICTA and by the way, we are having very good relationships with these social media platforms like Facebook and Google and we speaking the same language.”
“We are goona come after you and we will make you an example because we will name and shame you and we are going to blacklist you in Zambia, meaning you cannot use any of these services and if cousin, your mother, your father buys you a phone and you start using and we find out, we will blacklist your mother, your father, your cousin and whoever will give you access.”