• SA government wants to track smartphones

    Date:27 March 2020 Author: Leila Stein Tags:, ,

    The South African government are considering using smartphone tracking information to fight the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

    This, in addition to new regulations relating to broadcasters and ISPs, are just some of the ways the Department of Communications is contributing to the national COVID-19 fight.

    Talking to SABC, Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said that the mobile industry has agreed to provide data analytics services to help the government track people’s movements.

    According to My Broadband, the request has been issued to service providers to send high-level aggregated data on how people are moving to the government.

    This does not include personal data or identify individuals.

    However, Ndabeni-Abrahams said that her department are interested in extending this to identify individuals. This way, they could ensure those who have tested positive are adhering to the rules.

    She argued that while there is a concern regarding right of privacy for the individual, the current outbreak means they are “looking at the only right that matters for now – the right to have life,” she said.

    A section regarding “individual track and trace” was published in the recent government gazette on communications. In it, they specified that telecoms licensees provide location-based services to assist the government and the Post Office share its national address system and any applicable databases.

    She said they are currently in engagement with the Department of Justice, State Security, and ICASA on the legality and implementation of these requests.

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