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Transforming Society

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Restoring Dignity

Message being circulated about Monitoring and Surveillance

MEDIA STATEMENT:

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Attention: Editors and Reporters

The South African Human Rights Commission is aware of an electronic communication currently being circulated that warns members of the public that, from today onwards, all calls will be monitored and all communications on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook and other forms of social media are being monitored by the police. It warns the members of the public not to forward any posts or videos they receive regarding politics and the present situation about the government. It suggests that there is a new communications law referred to as “Cyber Crime” allegedly being applied by the police to monitor to record phone communications, including on social media, and other electronic communications.  
The veracity of this communication cannot be confirmed, however, in light of the obvious rights violations that would result if indeed it were true, the SAHRC would like to reassure the public of their rights with respect to monitoring and surveillance of private communications.   

The Commission would like to state unequivocally that everyone has a right to privacy as protected by Section 14 of the Constitution, which states that: “Everyone has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have - the privacy of their communications infringed.” The police therefore have no right and there is no law at this moment that authorizes them to do any monitoring of the private communications of members of the public. The Constitution also guarantees that every member of the public has the right of freedom of expression which includes the freedom to receive and impart information and ideas. Such information includes information with a political content, whether favourable or critical to a political party, an individual or members of a sitting government. Section 16 of course does not protect expressions that disseminate propaganda for war or incitement of imminent violence or advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm. Our advice to members of the public is that they should ignore the warning contained in the communication.

Ends
Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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About us

The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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