amaBhungane and Sole challenge
Submitting evidence in a case challenging the constitutionality of South African surveillance law.
On 4 April 2019, Privacy International (PI) together with Right 2 Know Campaign (R2K), submitted an amicus curiae to assist the High Court of South Africa in Pretoria in the amaBhungane RICA case.
The applicants, the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism NPC and Stephen Partick Sole, challenge the constitutionality of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provisions of Communication – Related Information Act 70 of 2002 (RICA) and the National Security Intelligence Act 39 of 1994 (NSIA). They argue that RICA and NSIA violates the right to privacy.
PI and R2K's intervention provides evidence that mandatory blanket retention of all users' communications data – information about when, where, how and with whom they communicate – violates international human rights law and it is therefore unconstitutional. It further supports that indiscriminate bulk interception of foreign signals – which translates to all internet traffic passing through South Africa – also infringes the right to privacy. Finally, it provides additional arguments regarding the notification of interception and the independence of the judges authorisation an interception, as necessary requirements for any interception of personal electronic communications to be lawful.
On 16 September 2019, the High Court of South Africa in Pretoria in a historic decision declared that bulk interception by the South African National Communications Centre is unlawful and invalid.
The government challenged this decision. PI and R2K submitted an amicus curiae to assist the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
Case details: amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism NPC and Stephen Partick Sole v. Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and 9 other respondents, Case no: 25978/17, High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division, Pretoria