Kak news for WhatsApp, Skype and Viber users in South Africa...A date has now been set for hearing to take place before the end of January to discuss regulating these services.
On the 26th January 2016, the Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services
will meet to discuss the future of OTT (Over-The-Top) services
such as WhatsApp
in terms of regulation in South Africa.The hearing intends to cover the following points:
- Necessary Policy interventions on how to govern OTTs
- Regulatory interventions on the guidelines to regulate OTTs
- Impact of OTTs on competition
- Is there a need for the OTTs to be defined as telecom services or telecom infrastructure
This is according to a report by Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions,
a company that works closely with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).You see, those points probably don't mean much to the Average Joe, however, its the last point that is the interesting one which means everything to you
, because basically what that means is... "should they be subject to licencing and regulatory obligations (such as legal intercept and emergency call access)?
"Now in case you may not have realised this before, your mobile service provider records and stores every phone call and SMS that you make or send, they have to by law.
With the whole RICA thing, they have all your personal details including your address tied to your phone number which is tied to phone calls and SMSes and stored in most cases, for 5 years.The RICA Act
basically already gives the powers that be the authority to listen in on your phone calls and SMS messages. Now I don't mean to scare the hell out of you, after all, if you've got nothing to hide then you have nothing to be worried about, and all that jazz... but there's more to that.Apart from RICA information like your name, address, ID Number etc, your mother's maiden name, your granny's bikini wax appointment etc...there is quite a lot of other data that they store "under the bonnet" so to speak.This data includes, who you've called; who you got a call from; who you SMS/TXT...oh, and also exactly where you performed all these actions. 🙂Your service provider can also record which websites you visited on the Internet (only on request). So for Hennie who likes to watch a few clips on "The Hub" whilst "in the bathroom", so his missus doesn't know... yes, Jacob and co know exactly what you're up to bru.... hahaha 🙂 (probably knocking one out himself, the naughty bugger... wow! that's quite a disturbing image hahahahaa )But this is where it gets a little bit MORE
scary.With the data that your service provider has, because of the fact that you can't ever let your phone leave your side...they can very easily work out, when you wake up; when you go to sleep and other patterns in day to day activities... even those who you associate with, and all your other movements.... cheaters beware hahaha 🙂Basically armed with the necessary paperwork, South African authorities can intercept and monitor all your phone calls and SMSes.Now in terms of security with catching bad guys, this is obviously brilliant as it's designed to make South Africa safer... but the problem is, given the level of corruption in South Africa these days, it probably wont to take much for somebody to take a backhand, where in just one example, your movements are monitored; you come home one day and all your valuable belongings in your home have grown legs and walked out ...sounds scary doesn't it, but given all of the above, does it seem that impossible?After all that, you can see now why they want to "regulate" services like WhatApp, Skype and Viber which operate on data only and through their own networks pretty much bypassing everything that it currently regulated ie. Phone calls and SMS...(remember data is somewhat limited to websites etc)There are financial reasons why service providers are calling for regulation, because as you can imagine with the increased use of WhatsApp, Skype and Viber in terms of instant messaging and now voice call capabilities, services providers, who primarily made their money through phone calls and SMSes are starting to feel the burn somewhat, however I guess all we can say to that is "it's evolution baby!" .... they're basically feeling how the cassette tape felt when the CD came out, or how the CD felt when the DVD came out, or how DVD felt when Internet Streaming came about... I'm sure you get it... all I can say is that, the world evolves, you either evolve with it or you fall off and drift into outer space, it happens in every industry....I'm sure it's not going to be long before we have a service provider on the scene that operates on data only (I can't be the only one who's thought of that)... you can't delay the inevitable, so why not try and act innovative and be a front runner?In case you wondering where this big who-ha has come from, its been a long time coming with Vodacom and MTN jumping up and down to bring in regulation and the fact that service providers in Morocco have now managed to completely block the use of WhatsApp, Skype and Viber...now given the last paragraph...what do you think the likes of Vodacom and MTN are trying to achieve?...its as clear as day don't you think? 🙂