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A majority of internet users are oblivious to the risk of giving out personal information on the internet. There is a current buzz about Face App, a catchy meme creator dominating social platforms that applies artificial intelligence based filters to change the appearance of uploaded images.

The App shows users how they will look when they age and because it is fun, users do not question what they are getting themselves into.Tech experts say by clicking ‘allow’ on all permissions the app asks for, they do not realise that the app can access photos, send notifications and activate their cameras. And without knowing, users end up giving the App full access to personal images of not just themselves but of their loved ones. This is just but one of the many that are available on the world of internet.

Alice Munyua, Mozilla Policy Advisor in Africa says it is important not to share vital personal data on the internet. This usually happens when one opens an account on applications including facebook and whatssup. Munyua worries that once given out, such platforms or applications can use the data in whatever form they want. “Such apps will ask you questions like; are you married, your religion, age and others, and most people answer everything without realising that they are voluntarily giving away their personal data.

“People also don’t realise that data is an extremely valuable thing right now,” Munyua told The Midweek Sun Monday on the sidelines of the 7th Africa DNS Forum held in Gaborone.
The forum is held under the theme; ‘Building Trust in the African DNS industry for a Thriving Digital Economy.’ She added that data is kept for the longest time and the longer it’s kept the more valuable it becomes, and illustrates that if one goes to their medical doctor, for example, they may divulge personal medical information needed by the doctor for a correct diagnosis.

However, thereafter they may never know where the data is kept and how it would be used in the future. She said that it may then be used for medical research, for example, that patients have not consented to.

“In the event that you have a terminal disease, you might realise that all of a sudden medical aid companies are not willing to cover you because your medical data is out there,” Munyua said.
According to Munyua, whose organisation is a global community of technologists, thinkers and builders working to keep the internet open and accessible, while ensuring safety and security, most African countries don’t take data protection seriously because they think it’s a western problem.

A case in point – in 2014 the African Union came up with an instrument, the Malabo Convention that was to help African countries harmonise data protection, among other issues. This according to Munyua would also help ease economic activity across the region. However, to date out of 55 African countries, only 24 have data protection laws including Botswana. She has observed that African countries are rushing to get their people in the digital economy however they are not willing to do all the necessary work to ensure safety and security for end users.

“The way we go about implementing the digital economy is going to determine whether technology empowers Africans or exploits us. The more we give out our data the more it’s exploited by companies that have got nothing to do with us,” Munyua said.Although Botswana passed the Data Protection Law last year, it has not yet commenced, according to Chief Technology Officer at Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA), Tshoganetso Kepaletswe.

Munyua said that in countries like Botswana where the law is in existence, it is important for users to know and understand it, and enforce their rights.

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A welcome snitch

Yvonne Mooka



CELLPHONE TRACKER: Tebogo Aaron says criminals have labelled him a snitch for helping the police track people’s stolen property

Tebogo Aaron works hand-in-hand with Botswana Police Service to track down missing and stolen cellphones.

In an interview with The Midweek Sun, the 38-year-old man from Mahalapye says that on average, he traces between 25 and 50 mobile phones per day. He runs a store called Gadgets + Collectables, with two branches in Airport Junction and Phakakane’s Acacia mall.

Even though he sells a variety of gadgets, among them cellphones, Bluetooth speakers, laptops, it is the business of cellphone tracking that has given him a niche in the market. The Business Management and IT graduate says that his cellphone tracking business makes him stand out. “We are now in the era of cellphones. Almost every person has a cellphone and again, people steal them at a high rate,” he says.

Aaron provides police with leads, allowing them to do recoveries. He helps people who come with a police affidavit. “I have attracted hate from thugs thinking I’m a snitch,” he laughs.
But how long does it take for him to track down a cellphone? He says that the gadget becomes traceable the moment a sim card gets inserted inside.

His observation is that people have a tendency of buying stolen gadgets something he says is risky as one ends up charged by the police for buying a stolen item.
“Thugs steal phones with the intention to sell them, not to keep them. They want fast cash,” he says. And he says that thieves would go to an extent of creating fake Facebook pages to sell their stolen cellphones.

“Immediately after selling them, they delete the social media accounts while the buyer is left with it. People must take precaution,” he says. One of the people who have benefited from Aaron’s service, Lerato Lepang says her phone and wallet were snatched from her on June 4 in Molepolole.

“I reported with the police. A week later I heard of Gadgets + Collectables and decided to give it a shot. I went to the store on July 13 with a police affidavit as well as my phone details.“Five days later I received a call from them saying they had details of someone who had my phone,” she says. Another person Masego Mokgwatlheng says Aaron managed to recover her phone after a month in June.

She had forgotten it in a cab and traces showed that the cab driver had sold it to a Zimbabwean man. “I am now using my phone. It was made easier because I had a police affidavit,” she says. In addition to cellphone tracking, Aaron also tracks lost or stolen pets, bicycles and luggage. He has five employees.

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Mixed reactions to Masisi’s law on home-operated businesses



President Mokgweetsi Masisi intends to simplify the process of starting micro-businesses to make it less demanding. This entails retracting licenses for starting small businesses such as tuckshop, manicures and many others.

The Midweek Sun went out on the streets to hear views of the people about the new bill.A boutique owner based in Kanye Thapelo Dioka said it is a good initiative but he worries that Batswana will even set-up businesses which are not environmentally friendly.

“I have long struggled and been unable to rent out my spare bedrooms to try feed my family, due to stringent procedures of acquiring licenses,” said Dioka. Kolobetso Maswabi lamented that for a long time young people have been paying expensive rentals. The new law will help in starting and maintaining businesses as there will be no rentals to pay.

“For some of us who stay next to big malls the law will be an advantage, I am going to operate business in the backyard,” she says. However some had doubts about the new law, describing it as a campaign strategy and a desperate effort to gain political mileage. They will only believe it when it is signed into law.

“Why would he retract licenses when elections are about to take place and there is a need for them to explain more on what they mean about small scale businesses,” asked another entrepreneur.

Tiraone Basenyafela, an entrepreneur with disability who does leather works, lamented that they have long endured charges for licenses and at times failure to renew the licenses results in losing them.

“I believe that only big shops should be required to have licenses, not small businesses and struggling individuals like me,” said Basenyafela.

President Masisi explained that the new law intends to help Batswana improve their livelihoods and graduate from poverty, but added that licenses will still be required for those seeking to deal in food businesses and others that could be potentially unfriendly to the environment.

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