Watchdogs want answers for spam messages sent by political parties

The Right2Know Campaign (R2K) and a number of its partners have written a joint letter to the Office of the Information Regulator to inquire about its operations.

First established in 2016 in terms of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI), the regulator’s core purpose is to promote access to information in line with the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) and to monitor and enforce compliance by public and private bodies to POPI.

However in the letter, the R2K campaign and its partners noted that there is no visible sign of the existence of the Information Regulator in the communities within which they work.

“People do not even know that the Information Regulator exists,” the group said.

“Furthermore, in the past year there has been a deafening silence from the Information Regulator regarding issues of national significance in relation to the abuse of personal information of people.

“Examples of this includes the use of personal information of people by political parties who send unsolicited and unwanted bulk messages to the population.”

Deeds breach

The letter also served to alert the Information Regulator to its failure to respond to a complaint that R2K sent on 19 October 2017 regarding the ‘Master deeds’ data breach.

In October last year, security researcher Troy Hunt reported the breach of a database that has now been revealed to contain the sensitive personal information of more than 60 million people, living and dead.

The database contains government-issued ID numbers, email address, phone numbers, as well as information about marital status, employment, and property ownership. In total, Hunt has reported that the database contains 60,323,827 rows of data with unique South African identity numbers. This is said to be the biggest data breach in SA history.

“It is crucial that all of South Africa knows exactly what state the Information Regulator is in,” R2K said.

“Does it have the human and financial resources to fulfill its mandate? How many complaints have been lodged with it to date and what steps has it taken towards those complaints?”

Read: It’s time to make our privacy tools easier to find: Facebook

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Watchdogs want answers for spam messages sent by political parties