n South African Law Journal - Privacy in the Facebook era : a South African legal perspective

Volume 129, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-2503
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2177



Technological developments have always influenced the development of the right to privacy. In the late nineteenth century, the invention of hand-held cameras in conjunction with the growth in newspaper circulation figures and the development of sensationalist journalism resulted in the development of the right to privacy as a legal concept in the United States of America. In time, the right to privacy was also recognised in other countries, including South Africa. Further technological developments, such as the invention of the computer and the Internet, influenced the nature and scope of the right to privacy. This article explores the impact of a recent technological development, namely social networking services (SNSs), on the right to privacy. The aim of the article is to determine whether South African privacy law meets the challenges posed by this new technology, or whether it needs to be developed in some way. The article describes and analyses a particular SNS, namely Facebook, and identifies the potential privacy risks inherent in the use of Facebook. The right to privacy is also explored and proposals are profferred about how privacy law will need to develop in order to meet the challenges posed by SNSs.

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