traffic corruption

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Zimbabwe court bans mobile operator Econet from sharing ‘traumatising’ COVID-19 alerts

The Zimbabwe High Court barred Econet Wireless from sending unsolicited COVID-19 texts.

traffic corruption

Image via Adobe Stock

In Zimbabwe, the High Court has made a ruling that would compel the country’s biggest mobile operator, Econet Wireless, to stop sending unsolicited messages to one of their subscribers, updating him about the latest COVID-19 statistics.

Econet’s ‘traumatising’ COVID-19 alerts

The decision came after Sikhumbuzo Mpofu sued Econet Wireless. Mpofu, who is himself a legal practitioner, took legal action after getting no joy from his requests to Econet Wireless to stop sending him the updates.

According to Mpofu, the unsolicited messages were the cause of anxiety after he endured the trauma of losing his father to COVID-19. Econet wouldn’t let up, despite several requests from Mpofu.

“I made several requests to Econet to stop sending me daily text messages but to no avail, because I felt the messages were an invasion of my privacy”.

Zimbabwe High court ruling

Mpofu explained that he recently lost his father to COVID-19. The text messages “were a constant reminder of death”. The High Court found in Mpofu’s favour labelling the messages as “traumatising information”. 

“It is declared that the respondent’s action in so far as continued communication was made to the applicant of traumatising information, violated section 53 and section 57 of the constitution of Zimbabwe amendment No 20 of 2013,” the court ruled.

Furthermore, the high court found that Econet’s actions were “wrongful and unconstitutional”.

The “action of the respondent in unilaterally supplying the applicant’s details to a service platform and or a third party for transmission of information unrelated to service provision and transmission of uninvited information is a violation of the contractual relationship between the parties.”

Econet given 12 hours to desist

The High court gave Econet Wireless twelve hours to stop sending the COVID-19 messages to Mpofu’s number.

Econet Wireless services 13 million mobile subscribers in Zimbabwe. While the order ruled specifically on Mpofu’s request not to receive the COVID-19 messages from the mobile operator, it remains to be seen whether Econet continues to send the messages out to all of their subscribers as they have been doing.

Presumably, the High Court finding would mean that any other user who makes a request to not receive the messages would be able to take legal action should Econet Wireless not stop sending them the messages.