Just over ten years since it was implemented, the Constitutional Court has declared the Regulation of Interception of Communication and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (Rica) unconstitutional.
According to the judgement, Rica does not implement “adequate” safeguards needed to render it lawful. Which is a fancy way of saying ‘it’s not secure enough… at all’. The judgement comes following an application filed by the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism and its managing partner Sam Sole at the apex court.
What makes Rica so insecure?
Rica’s not just the tedious process of allocating your new SIM to an ID number, it’s also a secret backdoor that allows the interception of communications of any person by authorised state officials. In other words, the government can remotely access your calls and messages if they deem it necessary, by law. Of course, there are prescribed conditions for this to happen. But the fact that it can happen, is somewhat worrisome.
This is what happened to Sam Sole, according to TimesLive. “Sole and amaBhungane challenged the provisions of Rica after they received confirmation that Sole had been under surveillance,” TimesLive reports.
After considering all the evidence against the law, the ConCourt filed a majority judgement headed by justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga. It details that Rica is unconstitutional, simply because it “fails to provide adequate safeguards for independent judicial authorisation.”