Privacy issues in South Africa have a particular historical significance, given the apartheid state’s systemic violation of the privacy of the black majority and political dissidents in general. A significant part of the struggle to defeat apartheid, to reclaim the human dignity of the oppressed, was the battle to regain both individual and collective privacy.
South Africa’s new democratic constitution unequivocally broke from that history by laying down a range of civil and political rights, including the right to privacy.
But there has been a consistent failure to match legislative intent with practical implementation and enforcement, as well as an embrace of a range of policies, practices and technologies that have put privacy in the back seat.
This monograph, produced by Dr Dale McKinley as part of a collaborative research project between the Right2Know Campaign and the Media Policy & Democracy Project, attempts to scope some of the new terrains for privacy in South Africa.
- The roll out of biometric databases and smart identification systems, with specific focus on the social security and population management systems;
- The massive increase in CCTV/ALPR hardware and software, along with surveillance in both public and private owned (public) spaces;
- The rapid rise in the use of drones for private use and commercial application;
- The collection, storage, ‘sharing’ and commodification of ever increasing amounts of personal information by both public and private sector entities in specific relation to SIM card registration and FICA.
All of these specific areas are under-studied and researched despite the fact that they ‘touch’, in the most direct and increasingly widespread of ways, on the privacy of every citizen.
It is hoped that this initial effort will provide a good foundation for further research and advocacy. Download the full monograph here.
The research for this monograph was supported by the International Development Research Centre