Guard your phone, data

Gigaba ‘sex video’ leak a warn­ing to users – experts

The Sunday Independent - - METRO - MANYANE MANYANE | SUMAYA HISHAM REUTERS African News Agency

SO­CIAL me­dia lawyers have urged mo­bile phone users not to leave their de­vices unat­tended and in ac­tive mode, to safe­guard their in­for­ma­tion.

The warn­ing comes af­ter Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Malusi Gigaba’s “sex video” went vi­ral. The min­is­ter is seen in the “leaked” video per­form­ing a solo sex­ual act, which he said was in­tended for his wife’s eyes only.

This sparked an out­cry on so­cial me­dia, with some call­ing for him to re­sign while oth­ers poked fun at him in memes and songs. The min­is­ter has since claimed his phone was “in­ter­cepted/hacked” in 2016/17 and the con­tents used to black­mail him.

Ver­lie Oosthuizen, a so­cial me­dia lawyer, said there are var­i­ous ways in which data on a cell­phone can be com­pro­mised. “If a per­son is not care­ful about their phone se­cu­rity, does not have pass­words or lock their phone, then it could be picked up by oth­ers, whilst unat­tended and the pri­vate con­tent can then be for­warded from that de­vice to oth­ers.

“How­ever, it is not that easy to hack a phone. It will usu­ally have to be as a re­sult of some kind of spe­cialised in­ter­ven­tion that is most likely un­law­ful in it­self,” said Oosthuizen.

She also ad­vised against read­ily shar­ing per­sonal or in­ti­mate in­for­ma­tion with strangers.

“A healthy scep­ti­cism is use­ful when re­ceiv­ing emails ask­ing for in­for­ma­tion. Hack­ing is un­law­ful, and the in­ter­cep­tion of elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tions is pro­hib­ited by statute un­less you have a court or­der which will only be granted on com­pelling grounds.”

Oosthuizen said those who think their phones have been hacked should re­port the in­ci­dents to the po­lice.

“They may in­ves­ti­gate crim­i­nal charges in terms of Rica or the Elec­tronic Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Act. If a per­son shares in­ti­mate im­ages of an ex-part­ner fol­low­ing a break-up, they could be charged with crimen in­juria. They could also be is­sued with a pro­tec­tion from ha­rass­ment or­der.”

An­other so­cial me­dia lawyer Emma Sadleir echoed Oosthuizen’s sen­ti­ments, ad­vis­ing users should ask peo­ple to send a writ­ten no­tice that proves mes­sages were deleted af­ter ex­chang­ing ex­plicit im­ages.

“If they refuse to pro­vide it or are threat­en­ing to dis­sem­i­nate the pic­tures or sex tape un­less you pay money and pro­vide favours, go to a lo­cal mag­is­trate’s court and get a pro­tec­tion or­der against that per­son un­der the Pro­tec­tion from Ha­rass­ment Act. Or if you were in a re­la­tion­ship the Pro­tec­tion from Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Act.”

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