Nowhere to hide- big brother is watching you: non-communicative personal cellphone information and the right to privacy.

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 17
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    By utilising the latest cellphone technology, non-communicative personal information, such as, the number that is dialled, the time the call is made, the movement and location of both the caller and the recipient of a call, can be obtained. This information is not ordinarily available to the police and it usually requires prior judicial authorisation to access this information. The problem is, that the cellphone companies, their employees, and criminals who want to know the location and movement of other citizens in order to commit crime, can access this information. The Protection of Personal Information Bill suggests new methods of operating with regard to the collection and/or dissemination of any personal information and aims to protect individual's right to data privacy and protection of personal information. If an individual has a right to privacy in his movement and location is not addressed by the Bill. This bill must, however still be passed by Parliament. On the other hand, this type of information, if utilised by the police services, can play a crucial role in solving crime, and the use thereof should be encouraged to solve crimes, provided that the proper legal authorisation is obtained. Are the nature and extent of non-communicative information, and details obtained from cellphone records, such as, the location and movement of users, worthy of being protected by the right to privacy? The key issue with regard to cellphones is whether the keeping and use of this non-communicative information by cellphone companies are intrusions on an individual's right to privacy. Does the right to privacy protect non-communicative personal information obtained from cellphone records? The right to privacy has been included in the South African Constitution as a fundamental right and enjoys both common law and constitutional protection.