South Africa: Data-sharing and misinformation emergency laws violate constitution


The regulations brought in to curb the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa included directions published by the minister of communications and digital technologies that critics claimed violated the country's constitution. On the plus side, the regulations ordered service providers to ensure continued provision of internet and telecommunications services, and enabled temporary licensing of spectrum bands, which could increase internet capacity. However, the regulations also make publishing a statement intended to deceive about COVID-19 a criminal offence; requires communications service licensees, over-the-top services, and internet service providers to remove fake news related to COVID-19 as soon as it's been identified; and licensees and the internet sector in general are required to provide location-based data to relevant authorities. No details were provided on how the data would be used or what evidence exists for its use in the service of public health.


Writer: Avani Singh and Michael Power
Publication: Mail and Guardian