DA to table bill amending laws to limit surveillance abuses
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen plans to table a private member’s bill to amend certain laws to limit surveillance abuses and improve transparency.
Amid repeated allegations of improper interception of electronic communications, Steenhuisen plans to have the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill tabled as the first order of business of the sixth parliament.
“Intelligence-related legislation contains several legislative lacunas that can readily be manipulated or abused,” a notice recently published in the Government Gazette said.
Along with shortcomings in the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Act (Rica), Steenhuisen claimed, “such abuse actively threatens and imposes on the privacy of all South Africans”.
The proposal follows widespread allegations against SA’s intelligence services and comes as the Right2Know (R2K) campaign awaits a response from the president over its Promotion of Access to Information Act application to view a high panel report into the functioning of the State Security Agency.
Parliament’s joint standing committee on intelligence reported in 2010 that in three years since the establishment of the Office for Interception Centres, “three-million interceptions were done”.
While Rica judge Hendrick Mmolli Thekiso Musi reported only 180 new applications for the 2017/2018 year, R2K revealed in 2017 that call records and meta-data of at least 70,000 South Africans had been accessed every year since 2015.
These interceptions were done through a loophole in Rica with warrants obtained in terms of Section 205 of the Criminal Procedures Act, R2K claimed.
Rica is also the subject of a Constitutional Court case. R2K and Privacy International have joined the case brought by investigative journalism group amaBhungane as friends of the court.