Vumacam has slammed a decision by the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) to appeal a high court judgment that its decision to stop issuing wayleaves to the company earlier this year was unlawful, describing the move as a waste of ratepayers’ money.
The JRA was reportedly worried Vumacam’s cameras would be used beyond their stated purpose of fighting crime and was concerned it was using them to spy on innocent people. In a court ruling handed down last month, it was found that the decision by the JRA to “suspend the consideration of aerial and CCTV wayleave applications” was “unlawful and invalid”.
The court directed the JRA to proceed with the consideration and determination of wayleave applications within seven days of the order and further said that the agency should provide reasons to Vumacam if applications are refused in the future.
In a statement on Tuesday evening, Vumacam CEO Ricky Croock said the JRA’s decision to appeal the judgment “directly impacts the roll-out of cameras and infrastructure to provide critical surveillance support to the South African Police Service, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department and private security companies in their crime-fighting efforts”.
“We take the protection of data and privacy rights very seriously and have ensured significant measures to exceed not only local by-laws and regulations but also international standards on privacy. The JRA has no legal right to suspend decision making on wayleaves due to data and privacy concerns and the judge comprehensively ruled on this. We have engaged extensively on the issue with the JRA but they still went to court and Johannesburg’s ratepayers are again on the hook for huge legal fees when the law is already very clear,” Croock said.
‘Campaign of misinformation’
He added that there is also an “ongoing public campaign of misinformation” against the roll-out of the CCTV system. He said Vumacam does not collect personal data; does not sell personal data to third parties, and does not intend to do so; anonymises all data; and does not have any means to link footage to any individual’s personal data.
“Vumacam built its platform based on international privacy standards that exceed Protection of Personal Information Act compliance. Vumacam provides situational awareness to curb criminal activity and to assist in medical emergencies. Its operations are in line with all current by-laws and the necessary permissions have been granted for all operations. Vumacam does not spy on law-abiding citizens.”
The JRA couldn’t immediately be reached for comment outside normal business hours. — © 2020 NewsCentral Media