Johannesburg - The contentious Regulation of Interception of Communication Act (RICA) law is harmful to the rights of children and the ability of NGOs to perform an oversight role and act as a watchdog.
This is according to Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) in its submissions to the Constitutional Court in an application by AmaBhungane to confirm the North Gauteng High Court order declaring parts of RICA inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid as they do not make provision for the notification of the subjects of surveillance.
Police Minister Bheki Cele and his state security counterpart Ayanda Dlodlo oppose AmaBhungane’s application, citing the risk that pre- and post-surveillance notification pose to the fight against crime and national security.
In the court papers, MMA director William Bird said the exercise of bulk surveillance has a harmful impact on the rights of children and NGOs’ abilities to act in the public interest, perform their monitoring and oversight functions as well as act as watchdogs.
The organisation maintains that RICA infringed on children’s rights in that it allows their communications with persons under surveillance and the Act neither has exceptions nor provides any protections against a direction issued against a minor.
”Through the mass retention of data required in terms of RICA, in terms of which every child who makes use of telecommunications or mobile services in the country is rendered subject to the mass retention requirements,” state MMA’s submissions.
Arguments in the matter will be heard on Tuesday.