Po­traz dis­misses so­cial me­dia black­out re­ports

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Nye­mudzai Kakore Harare Bureau

THE Postal and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Reg­u­la­tory Author­ity (PO­TRAZ) yes­ter­day dis­missed claims ped­dled on so­cial me­dia that the reg­u­la­tor would black­out all telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions across the coun­try dur­ing the day.

The black­out, ac­cord­ing to the so­cial me­dia claims, would af­fect all the net­work ser­vice providers.

The mes­sage, which has gone vi­ral on plat­forms such as Face­book and What­sApp, in­forms cit­i­zens that the black­out from (PO­TRAZ) would be from 10AM to 2PM.

The false mes­sage said the ‘ PO­TRAZ shut­down’ had been ne­ces­si­tated by the con­tin­u­ous and in­creased abuse of so­cial me­dia. Said PO­TRAZ in a state­ment: “We have noted with con­cern that there has been an abu­sive so­cial me­dia mes­sage pur­port­ing to be com­ing from PO­TRAZ on telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions black­outs. We would like to in­form all stake­hold­ers that this mes­sage is not com­ing from PO­TRAZ,” read the state­ment.

“We ad­vise stake­hold­ers and con­sumers not to cir­cu­late this false mes­sage as it causes un­nec­es­sary in­con­ve­nience to users of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vices in Zim­babwe.”

The fake cir­cu­lat­ing mes­sage comes as the Com­puter Crime and Cy­ber Crime Bill is ex­pected to be pre­sented to Par­lia­ment, which would pro­tect Zim­bab­weans from cy­ber ter­ror­ists.

The pro­posed law comes against the back­drop of some Zim­bab­weans lo­cally and abroad who are us­ing the in­ter­net to com­mu­ni­cate sub­ver­sive ma­te­rial which seeks to un­con­sti­tu­tion­ally re­move Gov­ern­ment through vi­o­lence.

Ac­cord­ing to the pro­posed law, in­ter­net ser­vice providers will be com­pelled to dis­close the source of any con­tent that is con­sid­ered cy­ber crime, while courts should be able to ac­cept elec­tronic ev­i­dence when cul­prits are ar­raigned be­fore them.

Reads part of the fake mes­sage which cir­cu­lated yes­ter­day:

“The black­out has been ne­ces­si­tated by the con­tin­u­ous and in­creased abuse of so­cial me­dia by sabo­teurs who are threat­en­ing to un­seat a con­sti­tu­tion­ally-elected Gov­ern­ment. In­con­ve­nience caused to law abid­ing cit­i­zens is sin­cerely re­gret­ted.”

“Cit­i­zens are re­minded that un­der the Postal and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Act, it is il­le­gal to post abu­sive mes­sages and in­cite­ment to vi­o­lence risks prison sen­tence.”

Gov­ern­ment re­cently warned that any­one caught gen­er­at­ing or shar­ing abu­sive and sub­ver­sive ma­te­rial on so­cial me­dia would be dis­con­nected from the coun­try’s mo­bile net­works.

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