Several flaws in SA’s draft data and cloud policy, say experts

Several flaws in SA’s draft data and cloud policy, say experts

Research ICT Africa executive director Dr Alison Gillwald.

Law and ICT experts have highlighted several flaws in SA’s Draft National Policy on Data and Cloud, questioning government’s approach to position citizens’ data as the infrastructure for production, rather than as an input or factor of production.

This was one of the key concerns raised during a recent virtual panel discussion held by ICT research organisation Research ICT Africa (RIA), when experts discussed the potential implications of the draft policy, published by the communications and digital technologies (CDT) minister for public consultation.

The discussion, moderated by RIA executive director Dr Alison Gillwald, comprised Torbjörn Fredriksson, head of the ICT analysis section of the division on technology and logistics at the UN Conference on Trade and Development; Jonathan Klaaren, professor at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research; Gabriella Razzano, legal consultant at RIA; Amazouz Souhila, senior radio communication officer at African Union Commission; and Andrea Campbell, commercial attorney at Microsoft SA.

The draft policy proposes to develop a state digital infrastructure company and high-performance computing and data processing centre.

It also aims to consolidate excess capacity of publicly-funded data centres and deliver processing, data facilities and cloud computing capacity. Government plans to develop ICT special economic zones, hubs and transformation centres.

In its draft policy, the department states: “South Africa’s effective response to challenges will depend significantly on the extent to which it exploits opportunities presented by the digital economy, through the development of policy frameworks that harness the economic and social potential of data and cloud computing.

“At the s ..