Statement: R2K and PI join amaBhungane RICA challenge as amicus curiae

Surveillance eye

The Right2Know Campaign and Privacy International, represented by the Legal Resources Centre, have applied to be admitted as friends of the court in an ongoing legal challenge to South Africa’s surveillance law, RICA, in the High Court in Pretoria.

Our intervention comes on the back of mounting evidence that the South African state’s surveillance powers have been abused, and so-called “checks & balances” in RICA have failed to protect citizens’ constitutional right to privacy.

Among our core arguments are:

  • That people have a right to be notified when their communications have been intercepted so that they can take action when they believe their privacy has been unlawfully breached. Currently RICA prevents such notification, unlike equivalent laws in other countries, which require a targeted person to be notified that they had been spied on after an appropriate lapse of time.
     
  • That RICA’s requirement that telecommunication users’ metadata – information about when, where, how and with whom they communicate – be stored for years is a massive and systemic violation of the rights of all South Africans who use digital communication. In this case, the state has asserted that it has the power to mandate telecommunications providers to store metadata about South Africans’ phone calls, SMSs, emails, and internet activity for up to five years. This includes the location from which those communications were made, and the subject lines of emails which often indicate the content of the message.
     
  • That mass surveillance is inherently unconstitutional.

The bottom line is that RICA has violated basic rights and is in desperate need of being re-drafted and brought in line with our Constitution. We believe the amaBhungane challenge represents a critical opportunity to protect millions of people’s right to privacy and to help bring an end to surveillance abuses.

 

Download the papers here: https://bit.ly/2MsVHdt

For more information please contact:

Murray Hunter, Right2Know Campaign: 072 672 5468

Scarlet Kim, Privacy International: press@privacyinternational.org