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Government plans to change RICA act for mass surveillance

File Image: Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha ( INLSA)

File Image: Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha ( INLSA)

Published Mar 12, 2018


CAPE TOWN -  Michael Masutha, Justice and Correctional Services Minister, has confirmed he will be introducing amendments to the RICA Act, to close any potential loopholes allowing large surveillance of the South African public Business Tech reported. 

Masutha said in a reply to parliamentary questions session, that the revision of the RICA is in an initial drafting phase so an indication of what will be covered in the bill can't be revealed as yet. 

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However, he indicated that both the issue of targeted interception and mass surveillance are being considered under the revisions.

READ ALSO: 'Cops are spying on 70 000 cellphones a year'

“Although the RICA currently provides for strict standards before an interception direction may be issued for targeted interceptions (the interception of indirect communications, real-time communication-related information or direct communications), international developments will be taken into account during the reviewing process, to provide for appropriate and proportional safeguards and oversight mechanisms in respect of applications for targeted interceptions,”  Masutha said in his reply, according to Business tech.

“The aspect of mass surveillance is also being considered with a specific aim to ensure that such a surveillance process will be subject to appropriate safeguards and oversight mechanisms to protect the rights of individuals who may be targets of mass surveillance measures,”  Masutha continued. 

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In May 2017, Civil society group Right2Know said that law enforcement is using a legislative loophole to force SA’s cellular operators to hand over sensitive information about clients.

READ ALSO: Is the government spying on you?

In an issued statement the group said it had issued applications in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act requesting information on how often Cell C, MTN, Telkom and Vodacom hand over caller information.

On 23 August 2017, Statistics given by Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom showed that that law enforcement requested call records for at least 70,000 phone numbers every year.

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