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Security vs privacy – May residential estates scan your driver’s licence?


The scanning of driver’s licences has become prevalent at the entrances of community housing schemes like town house complexes, retirement villages and residential estates and you may be denied access to the scheme if you don’t whip out that licence.
This is according to Marina Constas, specialist sectional title and community schemes attorney, who indicated in an article by Property24 that overzealous security guards and estates may, however, be on the wrong side of the law.
With the implementation of Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPI Act) and how this information is used and stored, “trustees and directors need to urgently begin scrutinising their rules and procedures,” Constas advised.
“I get it. Unlicensed drivers can gain access and may cause an accident. Unsavoury individuals with questionable motives may be casing the joint to come in later and steal out of homes or hijack vehicles. On the other hand, the right to privacy is a very real thing,” she said.
She indicated that trustees and directors of community schemes must balance the interests on both sides and must understand that security officers are not authorised officers in terms of section 17 of the Identification Act 68 of 1997. “Only Police officers and peace officers are legally entitled to verify a person’s identification.”
“What about checking visitors’ car boots, as some estates are doing? Section 14 of our constitution says that everyone has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have their property searched,” she explained.
“In the very same constitution, those rights can be limited, and the Criminal Procedure Act is very clear when it stipulates that a Police officer is only entitled to search a person or a person’s property with a court-issued search warrant. If there’s no warrant, then that Police officer must have reasonable grounds and a reasonable suspicion that the person or property being searched has been involved in the commission of a crime.”
The most important piece of legislation for the trustees or directors to consider is the PoPI Act which will become effective in the very near future, particularly when it comes to scanning drivers’ licences.
A licence yields specific data, such as the name of the driver, his/her photograph, identity number and date of birth. The use of data for ill-gotten gains, including identity theft, is on an upward spiral which is alarming.
“The PoPI Act aims to protect us as much as it can. The Act says that the collectors of information must stipulate why they want it and what they will use it for. They must tell us where they are storing it and when they will destroy it. The rules of the housing scheme and information at the entrance of the scheme must cover these questions,” Constas said.