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Privacy-Online • News

Accountability for Protecting Personal Information

Posted October 9, 2018
The 28th September 2018 saw the world celebrate “Right2Know” day. The Information Regulator (Regulator) is to be congratulated on organising a conference to mark the celebration. Several speakers eloquently emphasised the importance of access to information in an open democracy as well as the enforcement of sanctions against those who do not comply with their obligations. The importance of the handing over of the Regulation of the Promotion of Access to Information Act to the Information Regulator was also addressed as the South Human Rights Commission has never enjoyed the enforcement powers granted to the Regulator.

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Privacy: Facebook Crash

Posted August 8, 2018
On the 25th July 2018 as a result of announcements that were made by Facebook relating to its future revenues the market value of Facebook dropped by US$ 148 billion (or R1,95 trillion). This is almost half of South Africa’s total GDP in 2016.

While there may be several reasons for the decline in Facebook’s revenue which led to the sell-off of shares, one of the three primary factors for the decrease in projected profitability of Facebook is the focus on privacy and security

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Your Personal Information and Internet Banking Fraud

Posted August 8, 2018
As I wrote in a previous article, South Africa according to the PWC Global economic crime and fraud survey of 2018 suffers the second highest number of cybercrimes of all the countries in the world. While I have no statistics to support this I would suggest that internet banking fraud must rank as one of the primary attack vectors for cybercriminals.

The Ombudsman for Banking Services of South Africa (Ombud) reported that for the first time in 2017 internet banking fraud was the category of crime that was most prevalent of the disputes that the Ombud has been requested to deal with. No less than 1377 internet banking complaints were closed by the Ombud in 2017. It is clear that significantly more citizens are victims of internet banking fraud as not all of the matters have been referred to the Ombud.

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Personal Information - The raw material of Cybercrime

Posted August 8, 2018
Since before 2002 I have been actively involved with attempting to create awareness relating to, among other things, the importance of the protection of our personal information and the necessity to address information security and cybersecurity on the one hand and cybercrime on the other. In making representations on the Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill, prior to its enactment I expressly addressed the issue of cybercrime and the fact that in countries where data protection laws have been established this was seen as one of the primary steps to combatting cybercrime. Readers of my articles will know that I have lamented the negligence of government in its failure to deal with these issues properly. So too have I lamented the fact that unscrupulous business has taken advantage of government’s delinquency, placing financial gain ahead of the constitutional rights of citizens and in the vast majority of cases failing to protect personal information.

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South Africa Second Most Targeted Cybercrime Country

Posted August 8, 2018
As South Africans the incidence of crime and even violent crime reported in our media daily has caused us to some extent to be numbed to the devastating effect it has on our country and the victims of these crimes. At one level this is a perfectly understandable defence mechanism. If we were to react otherwise we would spend our lives in outrage. Similarly, the well-publicised and in many cases undeniable, corruption and fraud perpetrated by politicians and administrators in government is also in our face on a daily basis. The magnitude of the greed which has motivated senior politicians and administrators to “sell our country” is beyond the comprehension of most citizens. It is also an indisputable fact that the failure of governance, to the extent of the ruling party has protected its leaders for political ends, has contributed significantly to the lack of accountability and the flaunting of the rule of law that has allowed our economy to be plundered for the benefit of an elite few.

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A Listening Government?

Posted August 8, 2018
In 2003 Nelson Mandela said: "It's now 10 years since the fall of the apartheid government and we cannot blame apartheid for being tardy."

In 1994, while they certainly existed, issues of information security (cybersecurity was not a term used at that time) and data protection were relatively new. The risks of cybercrime and other abuses of the new phenomenon of the Internet on a commercial and social level was relatively low. The explosion of the Internet, its applications, uses, the rapid improvement of mobile communications and the advent of social media has changed this irretrievably. The risk of the compromise of information security, abuse of personal information and the perpetration of cybercrimes, particularly by organised criminal syndicates, has increased alarmingly. It is undeniable that these events have occurred under the watch of the ruling party. Equally undeniable is that, at best, it has been tardy in addressing these critically important 21st century issues.

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30 Million plus Personal Records Compromised: Who is Responsible?

Posted August 8, 2018
On Tuesday the 17th October 2017 the Cabinet reshuffle took centre stage. Since then much has been written about the State President's appointment of David Mahlobo's appointment as the new Minister of Mineral and Energy Affairs and the reasons behind this. Media reports are critical of Mahlobo, a staunch acolyte of the High Priest of the Shadow State, appointed, it is reported, to ensure that a nuclear deal is pushed through. It is even speculated that the deal has been concluded and that some of the actors have already been paid for the brokering of the deal. Mahlobo's appointment, it is reported, is to ensure that the bidding of Russia and Vladimir Putin is indeed done.

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The Reality of POPIA, GDPR and Cybersecurity

Posted October 9, 2017
The publication of the Regulations to POPIA brings us one step closer to the proclamation of the commencement of the Act ... 1 Day Workshop ...

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Invitation to provide comment to POPI draft Regulations

Posted September 13, 2017
In Government Gazette No. 41105 published on the 8th September 2017, the Information Regulator invited comment on the draft Regulations ...

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Combatting Cybercrime: National and International Cooperation

Posted April 11, 2017
I was recently referred to an article entitled "Responding to Cybercrime at Scale: Operation Avalanche - A Case Study". The article is published by the Centre for Cyber and Homeland Security at the George Washington University and is authored by Robert Wainwright, a director of Europol and Frank J. Cilluffo, director of the Centre for Cyber and Homeland Security.

For anyone dealing with the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill, this article provides some insight into the complexity of cybercrime and the profoundly different way in which the combatting of cybercrime needs to be addressed.

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"Time to Protect Confidential Information"

Posted April 11, 2017
Lost amidst the tumult of the past weeks the Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo, wrote an opinion titled "Time to Protect Confidentiality of Information". The main purpose of the Minister’s article is to address criticism relating to his comments indicating that social media needs to be regulated by government. The Minister refers to what he describes as a “…huge outcry from various quarters and outright rejection, all of this without any sound or critical evaluation, or engagement with the view he expressed".

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"Dlamini Negligence" or Wilful Default?

Posted March 27, 2017

In my comment "Privacy - Constitutional Crisis Parallel to the SASSA Debacle" I highlighted the "Dlamini neglect" that allowed the constitutional right of privacy of at least 10 million South Africans to be plundered by unscrupulous business. I also pointed to the intervention of the Information Regulator in the "Black Sash" application and the fact that eventually, despite government's neglect of the constitutional right of privacy and the protection of personal information of South Africans, we at last have an independent Regulator that seems intent on discharging its duty to South Africans. ....

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Privacy - Constitutional Crisis Parallel to the SASSA Debacle

Posted March 27, 2017
On the 14th March 2017 the Social Development  Minister Bathabile Dhlamini asserted in parliament that there was “no crisis” relating to the payment of social security grants and that this was merely something that the “prophets of doom” had created. On the 15th March the Chief Justice disagreed with her, expressing the views of most South Africans ....

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House of Commons (UK) Report: Cyber Security: Protection of Personal Data Online

Posted July 18, 2016

Your attention is drawn to a report of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee in the United Kingdom addressing Cyber Security: Protection of Personal Data Online. ... This report, published on the 20th June 2016 uses as a focus the TalkTalk cyber-attack and responses to the cyber-attack which were considered by the Committee. However, its considerations are far wider and the recommendations made in the Conclusion and Recommendations are far-reaching.

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"Human Rights? Well, only when it suits us"

Posted July 18, 2016

During a period when one of our human rights, the freedom of expression, has been placed under the microscope by the SABC saga, on the 30th June 2016 a resolution was tabled before the General Assembly of the United Nations, aimed at the promotion and protection online of civil, political, economic, social and cultural, developmental and specifically the protection and enjoyment of human rights.

 

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Is Government upholding the constitutional right of privacy?

Posted July 12, 2016
Constitutional Right ... The pronouncement by the Chief Justice in the Nkandla matter reaffirming Parliament’s duty to uphold and respect the Constitution has, according to government, been accepted and is respected. However, government still fails to protect the privacy of South African citizens, despite this being recognised globally as a critical foundation for a 21st century democracy. The question that arises is: “Is this simply a failure to understand our modern world, or does the ANC have a more sinister motive in allowing, and being an accomplice to,  South African citizens’ constitutional right of privacy being trampled upon by unscrupulous business and regarded with disdain by government agencies?”

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Nominees for positions within the Information Regulator to be put to House of Assembly for confirmat

Posted May 18, 2016

According to a Twitter feed received yesterday the nominees for positions within the Information Regulator that will be put to the House of Assembly for confirmation of their appointment are Advocate Pansy Tlakula, Ms Tana Pistorius, Mr Lindelo Snail, Mr Johannes Weapond and Advocate Lebogang Stroom. ... This is an important and though long overdue, welcome development.

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Privacy: Important International Developments

Posted May 12, 2016

The General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), adopted by the European Parliament on the 14th April 2016, was published in the European Union Official Journal on the 4th May 2016. This amounts to promulgation in the same manner as publication in the Government Gazette in South African. The Regulation will come into force on the 24th May 2016 and member countries have until the 25th May 2018 to ensure that they comply with the provisions of the Regulation.

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The United Kingdom appoints a new Information Commissioner

Posted April 29, 2016

Correction: In my previous article relating to the appointment of the Information Regulator I indicated that nominees for the positions in the office of the Information Regulator had been interviewed on the 19th and 20th April 2016. I now been advised that while interviews were initially scheduled for these dates that they did not occur. ....

The United Kingdom appoints a new Information Commissioner: At a time when in South Africa we are taking our first steps to appointing an Information Regulator the current Information Commissioner in the UK, Mr Christopher Graham, is set to be replaced by Elizabeth Denham at the end of June 2016. The appointment of Ms Denham is interesting as she is a Canadian .....

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The Appointment of the Information Regulator: An important step in protecting the right of privacy

Posted April 27, 2016
I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Dene Smuts last week. Dene, a Parliamentarian for 20 years before retiring in 2014, made an important contribution to the development of the Constitution and ensuring that the principles of the Constitution are embodied in legislation. Having worked with her in dealing with issues relating to the Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill, prior to its enactment, and the development and finalisation of the Protection of Personal Information Act (“the Act”) I came to admire her work ethic, insightful questioning and genuine concern for the safeguarding of the rights of all South African citizens. Her positive influence on South Africa and its citizens will be felt for many years to come.

As it turned out, shortly prior to Dene’s death, I called her to tell her of the announcement of the shortlist for the position of Information Regulator, a development that we both welcomed despite it being long overdue. Since then, on the 19th and 20th April 2016 the nominees for posts within the office of the Information Regulator have been interviewed and the announcement of who will be charged with this extremely important constitutional responsibility should be made in the near future.

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Publication of shortlist for Interviewees for the position of Information Regulator

Posted April 15, 2016
The shortlist for the position of Information Regulator has been published.

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Privacy, a Fundamental Human Right

Posted March 23, 2016
Human Rights Day reminded us of issues that have beset South Africa in the past and indeed continue to tax citizens of South Africa. While the violation of human rights under the nationalist government in the apartheid era impacted more heavily on the disenfranchised, it adversely affected the human rights of all South Africans and the truth is we still have enormous challenges in redressing these wrongs.

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Tension Mounts on South Africa's Cybersecurity Law

Posted March 4, 2016

On the 8th February 2016 Bloomberg BNA published an article entitled “Tension Mounts on South Africa’s Cybersecurity Law”. The article presents a good summary of both domestic and the international views on the proposed legislation and government’s role in terms of the National Cybersecurity Policy Framework. It also highlights a number of concerns contained in the public comment provided to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. . . . To summarise, it indicates that there needs to be clarity relating to government’s authority, roles, responsibilities and goals and that these should be balanced against public interest infringing on constitutional rights. It emphasises that the provisions of the proposed law are “vague and far-reaching” and broad definitions could unintentionally criminalise perfectly legitimate acts.
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Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill ("Bill")

Posted December 14, 2015
There is little argument that cybercrimes have increased significantly in recent years and that the necessity for legislation addressing cybercrime and establishing cybersecurity functions is long overdue in South Africa. As long ago as 2002, in addressing the public hearings relating to the ECT Act, representations to government were made in this regard. Government chose to ignore these.

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Safe Harbor Accord Invalid - What can South Africa learn?

Posted October 8, 2015
On the 6th October 2015 the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) ruled that the Safe Harbor Accord between the European Union and the United States was invalid.

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news
  • 09 October 2018 - 12:11:00
    The 28th September 2018 saw the world celebrate “Right2Know” day. The Information Regulator (Regulator) is to be congratulated on organising a conference to mark the celebration. Several speakers eloquently emphasised the importance of access to information in an open democracy as well as the enforcement of sanctions against those who do not comply with their obligations. The importance of the handing over of the Regulation of the Promotion of Access to Information Act to the Information Regulator was also addressed as the South Human Rights Commission has never enjoyed the enforcement powers granted to the Regulator.

  • 08 August 2018 - 13:41:00
    On the 25th July 2018 as a result of announcements that were made by Facebook relating to its future revenues the market value of Facebook dropped by US$ 148 billion (or R1,95 trillion). This is almost half of South Africa’s total GDP in 2016.

    While there may be several reasons for the decline in Facebook’s revenue which led to the sell-off of shares, one of the three primary factors for the decrease in projected profitability of Facebook is the focus on privacy and security