The Zambian government has reportedly engaged Chinese experts to install a secret internet monitoring facility in the country. In tandem with this move, President Michael Sata has given authorization to the Special Division of the Office of the President (also known as the Zambian Security Intelligence Service) to monitor the telephone and online communications of anyone living in Zambia if ordered to do so by the Attorney General.
Assuming this story checks out it’s interesting that Zambia is calling on the fraternal services of China in this matter, since Saha ran on an explicitly anti-Chinese platform when he was elected. But it’s not surprising that a country like Zambia would do this. Authoritarian regimes will likely already have their own installed capacity catering for their particular requirements. Besides, it’s hard to imagine, say, Russia or Vietnam allowing China to crawl all over its network infrastructure. And if the US ever gets round to installing that ‘internet kill switch’ thing some of its politicians muse about (or if the UK ever gets round to ‘switching off twitter’) it’ll have the capability to do that without the embarrassment of China’s involvement. It’s ‘fragile democracies’ that are your market here.