oa South African Journal of Information Management - Legal guidelines for the collection of information in the competitive intelligence process in South Africa
The concept of competitive intelligence (CI) as a process has long been proposed as an effort to increase a firm's competitiveness and its strategic planning process. The core objective in CI is to predict what is going to happen in an environment and then develop appropriate responses to either take advantage of it or help to shape the environment. Because of the nature of the collecting of information in the CI process and the sphere of competitive rights in which this activity operates, the participants in the process must ensure that they act in accordance with the law. The values enshrined in the Constitution, Act 108 of 1996, are also relevant to this process. They include, among other things, the right to information, to freely participate in the economy and the right to privacy. The law of delict determines when the gathering of information in this process becomes illegal and in particular when it amounts to unlawful competition. The difficulty with the legal aspects of the CI process is that the legality of each and every aspect of the CI process has to be determined in view of the particular circumstances. A thorough knowledge of the legal implications of the CI process is therefore crucial. Such knowledge is to the advantage of the particular business, both in preventing unlawful actions and in utilizing the right to information to its full extent.
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