The Constitutional Court has ruled that the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA), which came into effect in 2009, is unconstitutional.
RICA has been a pain in South Africans sides since it was instituted. Under this ACT all SIM cards bought in the country need to be registered and linked to and ID. While the government said this information would only be used for specific purposes, there have been concerns that they would not keep it safe or use it for other purposes.
This lack of security is the main concern brought up in the ruling. The court said the legislation fails to ‘protect the right to privacy, as buttressed by the rights to freedom of expression and the media, access to courts and a fair trial’.
This was one of the key points brought for discussion to the court. Journalist Sam Sole and the Amabhungane Centre for Investigate Journalism who brought the challenge specifically pointed out the lack of recourse for citizens who were found to have been the target of government surveillance.
Specifically, the court found that the Act doesn't require notifying the person who was surveilled after the fact and they noted the lack of procedures on what to do with confidential information.
The government's argument for RICA is that it is necessary due to the crime levels in the country. They claim it helps police with investigations and curbing serious crime.