Cape Town as a Smart and Safe City: Implications for Governance and Data Privacy

Journal of International Data Privacy Law, Forthcoming

University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 41/2017

31 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2017 Last revised: 19 Sep 2017

See all articles by Nora Ni Loideain

Nora Ni Loideain

Information Law & Policy Centre; Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge; Faculty of Humanities

Date Written: September 1, 2017


Promises abound that ‘smart city’ technologies could play a major role in developing safer, more sustainable, and equitable cities, creating paragons of democracy. However, there are concerns that governance led by ‘Big Data’ processes marks the beginning of a trend of encroachment on the individual’s liberty and privacy, even if such technologies are employed legitimately for the public’s safety and security. There are many ways in which personal data processing for law enforcement and public safety purposes may pose a threat to the privacy and data protection rights of individuals. Furthermore, the risk of such powers being misused is increased by the covert nature of the processing, and the ever-increasing capacity, and pervasiveness, of the retention, sharing, and monitoring of personal data by public authorities and business. The focus of this article concerns the use of these smart city technologies for the purposes of countering crime and ensuring public safety. Specifically, this research examines these policy-making developments, and the key initiatives to date, undertaken by the municipal authorities within the city of Cape Town. Subsequently, the examination then explores the implications of these policies and initiatives for governance, and compliance with the right to data privacy, as guaranteed under international human rights law, the Constitution of South Africa, and the national statutory framework governing data protection. In conclusion, the discussion provides reflections on the findings from this analysis, including some policy recommendations.

Keywords: data privacy, governance, human rights, Protection of Personal Information Act 2013, surveillance, smart cities

Suggested Citation

Ni Loideain, Nora, Cape Town as a Smart and Safe City: Implications for Governance and Data Privacy (September 1, 2017). Journal of International Data Privacy Law, Forthcoming, University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 41/2017, Available at SSRN: or

Nora Ni Loideain (Contact Author)

Information Law & Policy Centre ( email )

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