What has also been revealed, as Privacy International reports, the South African government conducted the "bulk interception of Internet traffic by tapping undersea fibre optic cables." Given that there are several such cables on South African shores, it is not yet clear is such mass surveillance was limited to some of the undersea fibre cables or the State Security Agency actually tapped Internet traffic on all of them.More worrying is that, despite SSA saying the automated information collection was directed at foreign communications that are a threat to the state security of the country, even they admit that it is impossible, without human intervention, to determine whether any communication passing through undersea fibre cables is of foreign origin or not. This in turn means that the SSA has been collecting information and communications of South Africans without the necessary permissions. Such mass surveillance is probably unconstitutional and illegal.
The mass surveillance conducted by European governments has on two occasions been struck down by the European Court of Justice.However Danish politicians and telco industry refuse to honor fundamental rights and continue to retain data illegally.You can download the current draft (in Danish) here (pdf).
Also worrying is that the SSA has said that such surveillance and data collection is "common practice" globally.Some time during 2017, amaBhungane initiated legal proceedings after they became aware that the SSA and those related to it had been recording their editor, Sam Sole’s phone communications for a period of at least six months in 2008 during South Africa's ‘Spy Tapes’ era. This then led to further widespread revelations about widespread and indiscriminate surveillance by the SSA.
(We will be following up with more details on this development as more information becomes available and as we get feedback.)
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