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CONTACT TRACING Alison Gillwald, Gabriella Razzano, Andrew Rens, and Anri van der Spuy Research ICT Africa

A time of crisis presents an important opportunity for both asserting existing rights protections, but also for learning about the priorities of state actors in different jurisdictions in terms of their relationship to data. In South Africa, one of the earliest acts in the formation of regulations in response to the pandemic was to expand the state’s powers for data extraction from citizens: even with some safeguards for rights, questions remain as to whether this extraction has adequately protected the privacy rights of citizens. Initially it looked as if things were heading in the direction of unqualified and arguably unconstitutional mass surveillance when on March 26, 2020 at the start of the lockdown, the Communications and Digital Technologies Minister issued a set of ‘directions’ which included an instruction to mobile operators to provide mobile data as required by the public sector to manage COVID-19, with no limitations on the purpose of data collection or who could access the data within the public sector—or in fact, any reference to data protection at all. The ‘directions’ seemed inconsistent with the Bill of Rights which remains in full force because the government declared a state of disaster to deal with the pandemic, rather than a state of emergency which would have allowed for the suspension of rights. These concerns were swiftly quelled

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Profile for Meatspace Press

Data Justice and COVID-19: Global Perspectives  

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how social, economic, and political power is created, exerted, and extended through technology. Through c...

Data Justice and COVID-19: Global Perspectives  

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how social, economic, and political power is created, exerted, and extended through technology. Through c...

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