Govt hones spying tools

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INFORMATION communication services provider, Portnet Software — owned by government through Zarnet — has been upgraded to a silver partner from bronze by a German multinational software corporation Systems, Applications and Products (SAP) increasing its expertise in sybase and business intelligence products.

Hazel Ndebele

Sybase is a software subsidiary of SAP that produces software to manage and analyse information in relational databases.

The move will bolster Portnet’s capacity to offer security services to government and help it have a firmer control of the internet space to increasingly spy on citizens.

Portnet’s sales manager Edmore Matemura this week told the Zimbabwe Independent that the upgrading of Portnet’s membership to silver means that the company has reached enough points to be certified to the next stage. “We have been working on SAP upgrades and also increasing our certification in terms of consultancy and other IT sectors, therefore, we have qualified to be a SAP silver partner where we are registered under the name Portnet Pvt,” said Matemura.

Portnet Software, in which Zimbabwean government has 51% stake, is a partner at the multinational company SAP which has regional offices in 130 countries worldwide.

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Portnet was established in 2005 and provides services and technology solutions in Zimbabwe and across Africa. Government says the significant controlling stake at Portnet secures itself from potential security risks on sensitive state information.

Portnet’s focus areas include telecommunications, media, defence and security, professional services, retail, public sector and banking, among other sectors. Portnet also handles and offers security in government ministries such as the ministry of finance.

IT experts say government’s acquisition of Portnet also allows it to implement Computer Crime and Cybercrime Bill objectives.

The Bill, still to be presented to cabinet, would allow government — through an information technology company such as Portnet — to remotely install a remote forensic tool (spying tool) onto citizens’ communication devices.

Zimbabwe already has a law, the Interception of Communication Act 2007, which gives government significant powers of surveillance over citizens’ communications.

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