Which ACT is Violated when Posting Private Information of Someone on Social Media

On this page we focus on finding out which act is being violated when you post the private information of someone on social media: In recent years, the internet and social media platforms have become vital tools for communication, information sharing, and networking. However, these platforms have also given rise to new forms of harassment, such as “doxing,” which involves posting someone’s private information online without their consent. In South Africa, doxing is a serious issue that can lead to the violation of privacy rights. This article aims to explore the specific legislation being breached when doxing occurs in South Africa and provide examples to illustrate the problem.

Which ACT is Violated when Posting Private Information of Someone on Social Media

The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA)

The primary South African law that deals with privacy rights, and which can be violated when private information is shared online without consent, is the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) of 2013. POPIA governs the processing and handling of personal information, outlining the rights of individuals to have their information protected and the responsibilities of those who process it.

Under POPIA, personal information includes, but is not limited to, an individual’s:

  • Name, contact details, and address
  • Race, gender, and age
  • Identity number or passport number
  • Financial, criminal, or employment history

When someone shares another person’s private information online without their consent, they may be violating the individual’s privacy rights as protected by POPIA. This is especially the case if the information was obtained unlawfully or if it’s being used for malicious purposes such as harassment, discrimination, or intimidation.

Examples of Privacy Rights Violations in South Africa

  1. Celebrity Doxing: In 2021, a South African actress fell victim to doxing when her personal contact information, including her phone number and email address, was shared on social media. This led to the actress receiving numerous unwanted calls and messages, causing distress and compromising her safety.
  2. Workplace Revenge: In another example, an employee who was terminated from their job decided to retaliate by posting their former boss’s personal information on social media. This act resulted in the boss receiving harassing calls and emails from strangers, disrupting their personal and professional life.
  3. Political Agenda: A South African political figure experienced doxing when their home address was shared online during a heated political campaign. As a result, the politician and their family were subjected to harassment and threats, putting their safety at risk.

Legal Consequences and Remedies

Violating the POPIA by sharing someone’s private information online without their consent can lead to severe legal consequences. Offenders may be held liable for damages caused by their actions, and can also be fined up to R10 million or face imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years.

Victims of doxing in South Africa can take legal action to protect their privacy rights. They may file a complaint with the Information Regulator, seek an interdict to prevent further sharing of their information, or pursue a civil claim for damages.

Doxing on social media is a serious issue in South Africa that can result in the violation of privacy rights as protected by POPIA. Sharing someone’s private information without their consent can have significant consequences for both the victim and the offender. It is crucial for individuals to understand their privacy rights and the responsibilities of those who process personal information, as well as the potential legal ramifications of doxing.

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