Right2Know and Privacy International argued at the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday that bulk surveillance is an extraordinary violation of rights and demanded an end to the practice.
The two organisations joined amaBhungane Centre of Investigating Journalism as friends of the court to declare some sections of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA) unconstitutional and invalid.
amaBhungane started legal proceedings in April 2017 after learning that managing partner and investigative journalist, Sam Sole, had been the target of state surveillance under RICA, while investigating the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority to drop corruption charges against former President Jacob Zuma.
amaBhungane argued earlier through their counsel that under the current regulations, journalists and their sources were not protected.
Advocate Michael Bishop for the organisations said even when regulated, bulk surveillance can never be constitutional.
“We live so much of our lives on digital platforms, banking, insurance, all our communications … The state could never have got that knowledge in a pre-digital age,” he said.
Bishop said notification of individuals that they were under surveillance, is best practice – and it helps check any possible abuse by the state.
Earlier, amaBhungane argued that they were not saying the whole security and interception regime should collapse, but they said, safe guards were not adequate.
The wanted the court to order that proper regulation of the state’s bulk surveillance architecture be introduced, saying it was wide open to abuse.
The matter was adjourned to Thursday.
= Africa News Agency (ANA)