The debate on contact tracing and human rights


Next week South Africa is to phase from Level 4 to Level 3 of the national lockdown. In the fourth episode of the RIA Podcast we have an in depth discussion about contact tracing to combat the spread of COVID-19. We look at the technical basis for contact tracing, International examples of contact tracing, the new South African regulations on contact tracing, as well as the human rights aspects of contact tracing.

In many of the mature economies, the data protection aspects of COVID-19 contact tracing are managed by their Information Regulators. In South Africa, a designated COVID-19 judge, Justice Kate O’Regan, has been somewhat innovatively appointed to oversee this process by the Department of Health to ensure the protection of individual rights in the mass surveillance of the population. There’s been some confusion about whether this overrides earlier mobile data collection clauses from the Department of Communications and Digital Communications (DCDT), some which have been subsequently scrapped.

We discuss this, together with how these relate to the Information Regulator’s contact tracing guidelines, why she was not included in the management of contact tracing, how these regulations differ from other existing interception and surveillance legislation, and importantly, to the Bill of Rights.

This podcast episode is produced by Alex Comninos and hosted by Dr Alison Gillwald, Executive Director at Research ICT Africa (RIA) and Adjunct Professor at the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town. It features as guests from the RIA team, Alex Comninos, Gabriella Razzano, Andrew Rens and Anri van der Spuy.

The music for this podcast is “Nobody Think Nomo” by Chimurenga Renaissance (feat. Mall Saint).