CC image courtesy of Dave Winer on Flickr.
The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the US and the Government Communications Headquarters in the United Kingdom (UK) have all been accused of accessing systems of major internet service providers by means deemed completely illegal in terms of the laws under which they’re supposed to operate.
This has resulted in a severe loss of trust and confidence in Barack Obama’s administration, but according to a report by the M&G, the South African government is far worse than the Obama administration in the US.
According to Mile Silber, a telecommunications specialist lawyer serving on different boards and bodies involved with the communications industry, South Africa is being intrusively surveyed in a similar manner to that of the US, but possibly worse.
“We all know RICA (Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provisions of Communication-Related Information Act) forced us to register our SIM cards a few years back,” the M&G quoted Silber as saying.
Silber added: “It also requires us to identify ourselves for internet services. What most people outside the industry do not know is that RICA also deals with lawful interception.
“One element of lawful interception is so-called ‘live’ interception. This is where calls, emails, web sessions and other communication are forwarded to the Office of Inception Centres pursuant to a warrant so that the content of the communication is available.”
HumanIPO reported on Wednesday the Consumer Fair were threatening to boycott the country’s major network operators if it emerged they were cooperating in government snooping on citizens.
Furthermore, Silber said the provisions of RICA, together with its established infrastructure, means the government in South Africa can access communication-related information on demand.
This information includes phone numbers called as well as the duration of the phone call conversations.
“Our phone companies... are obliged to store exactly what Verizon in the US was being forced to store,” said Silber.
However, the NSA in the US is supposedly prohibited from using its power to spy on citizens. In South Africa this is not the case as provisions in the country reportedly allow government to spy on the South African people.
Silber said a “total disregard by our intelligence services for democratic principles” is evident in a 2008 ministerial review on intelligence.