Asymmetry in South Africa’s Regulation of Customer Data Protection: Unequal Treatment between Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Over-the-Top (OTT) Service Providers

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dc.contributor.author Shanapinda, Stanley
dc.date.accessioned 2019-06-27T23:37:46Z
dc.date.available 2019-06-27T23:37:46Z
dc.date.issued 2019-06-28
dc.identifier.citation Shanapinda, S. (2019). Asymmetry in South Africa’s regulation of customer data protection: Unequal treatment between mobile network operators (MNOs) and over-the-top (OTT) service providers. The African Journal of Information and Communication (AJIC), 23, 1–20. https://doi.org/10.23962/10539/27536 en_ZA
dc.identifier.issn 2077-7213 (online version)
dc.identifier.issn 2077-7205 (print version)
dc.identifier.uri https://hdl.handle.net/10539/27536
dc.identifier.uri https://doi.org/10.23962/10539/27536
dc.description.abstract This article examines the asymmetry that currently exists in South Africa in the regulatory treatment of customer data usage by mobile network operators (MNOs) and over-the-top (OTT) service providers. MNOs and OTTs must receive customer “consent”, in terms of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI Act) and its Regulations, before sharing the customer’s “personal information” with a third party. But MNOs have an additional requirement to meet, in terms of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA), which is not applicable to OTTs: a requirement whereby a customer must provide “written authorisation” to an MNO before the MNO can share “communication-related information which relates to the customer concerned” with a third party. In this article, I examine and analyse provisions of the POPI Act, POPI Act Regulations, RICA, other relevant legislation, court decisions, records of a Parliamentary hearing, the standard terms and conditions and privacy policies of two South African MNOs (Vodacom and MTN), and two international OTT service providers (Google and Facebook). Based on the analysis, I argue that the unequal regulatory treatment between the MNOs and OTTs, if allowed to persist, threatens to undermine the growth of key elements of South Africa’s digital economy. en_ZA
dc.language.iso en en_ZA
dc.publisher LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg en_ZA
dc.subject data protection, South Africa, regulatory asymmetry, mobile network operators (MNOs), over-the-top (OTT) service providers, Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA), Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI Act), digital economy, competition, personal information, privacy, consumer protection, compliance, enforcement, regulatory uncertainty en_ZA
dc.title Asymmetry in South Africa’s Regulation of Customer Data Protection: Unequal Treatment between Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Over-the-Top (OTT) Service Providers en_ZA
dc.type Article en_ZA
dc.journal.title The African Journal of Information and Communication (AJIC) en_ZA
dc.description.librarian CA2019 en_ZA
dc.citation.doi https://doi.org/10.23962/10539/27536 en_ZA
dc.citation.epage 20 en_ZA
dc.citation.issue 23 en_ZA
dc.citation.spage 1 en_ZA
dc.orcid.id https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3961-2306 en_ZA


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  • AJIC Issue 23, 2019
    Articles on data protection, cybersecurity resilience, a proposed “agricultural data commons”, intellectual property approaches to traditional knowledge, legal treatment of ISPs, and discursive constructions.

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