Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT -

It has been over a year since Ed­ward Snow­den, the pale-faced for­mer US Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency (NSA) con­trac­tor, blew the whis­tle on his govern­ment’s mass sur­veil­lance of cit­i­zens. His rev­e­la­tions, along with count­less other Big Brother-like sto­ries, have put pri­vacy and per­ceived gov­ern­men­tal and cor­po­rate snoop­ing in the spot­light.

For many South Africans, it has been an in­ter­est­ing is­sue to de­bate, but one that has not re­ally hit home un­til re­cently. Many of us were shocked, for ex­am­ple, when the Voda­fone Group – Vo­da­com’s global par­ent com­pany – ad­mit­ted to govern­ment sur­veil­lance of its net­works. Voda­fone pub­lished an ex­ten­sive break­down, de­tail­ing how many times Voda­fone com­pa­nies as­sisted law-en­force­ment agencies to lis­ten in on their users in the last year.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, cit­i­zens every­where are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly wary of the way in which in­for­ma­tion is han­dled and used by both gov­ern­ments and cor­po­rates, and alarmed at the ex­tent of mon­i­tor­ing and track­ing that is tak­ing place.

Ac­cord­ing to the f in­d­ings of the EMC Pri­vacy In­dex, a re­cent global study as­sess­ing con­sumer at­ti­tudes of on­line pri­vacy, only 41% of re­spon­dents be­lieve govern­ment is com­mit­ted to

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