COVID-19 has led to a surge of efforts by both state and private actors to manage the pandemic itself, and the consequences of it, with the aid of technology. Yet privacy has immediately been cast as a required trade-off in the efforts to combat the disease. Key examples of this are being seen in the introduction of contact tracing and related surveillance interventions, worldwide. These technologies are underpinned by the personal data of citizens.
The jurisprudential tools that arise from human rights discourse (such as limitations tests) provide a powerful tool for ensuring human-centred concerns are forwarded within rapidly emerging contexts, and give a particular focus for interpreting the African experience. Looking to South Africa as an example, human rights frameworks will be used to demonstrate how both privacy and access to information can serve to provide the nuance needed in assessing contact tracing, locally.