South Africa: A Matter of Privacy - Government Amends Track-and-Trace Laws

(file photo).

This is a backtrack from previous directives by the minister of communications and digital technologies which left much to be desired about how people's private information might be handled by the state.

The government has clarified directives to track and trace individuals who have come into contact with the Covid-19 virus. Prior to the amendment, it was not made explicit how people's private data would be protected nor which relevant authorities would have access to the information. Now, with fewer ambiguities, the regazetted directives provide somewhat of a safeguard against the abuse of private information.

The newly amended track-and-trace directives will, according to the government, target efforts to curb Covid-19.

The directive states that: "The National Department of Health shall develop and maintain a national database to enable the tracing of persons who are known or reasonably suspected to have come into contact with any person known or reasonably suspected to have contracted Covid-19."

The database will include identifying information such as the name, surname, identity or passport number, address, telephone number and test results of such individuals.

This is a backtrack from earlier directives published by the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Stella-Ndabeni-Abrahams, on 26 April, which left...

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