Privacy by (re)design: a comparative study of the protection of personal information in the mobile applications ecosystem under United States, European Union and South African law.
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The dissertation presents a comparative desktop study of the application of a Privacy by Design (PbD) approach to the protection of personal information in the mobile applications ecosystem under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) in the United States, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, and the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) in South Africa. The main problem considered in the thesis is whether there is an ‘accountability gap’ within the legislation selected for comparative study. This is analysed by examining whether the legislation can be enforced against parties other than the app developer in the mobile app ecosystem, as it is theorised that only on this basis will the underlying technologies and architecture of mobile apps be changed to support a privacy by (re)design approach. The key research question is what legal approach is to be adopted to enforce such an approach within the mobile apps ecosystem. It describes the complexity of the mobile apps ecosystem, identifying the key role players and the processing operations that take place. It sets out what is encompassed by the conceptual framework of PbD, and why the concept of privacy by (re)design may be more appropriate in the context of mobile apps integrating third party services and products. It identifies the core data protection principles of data minimisation and accountability, and the nature of informed consent, as being essential to an effective PbD approach. It concludes that without strengthening the legal obligations pertaining to the sharing of personal information with third parties, neither regulatory guidance, as is preferred in the United States, nor a direct legal obligation, as created by article 25 of the GDPR, is adequate to enforce a PbD approach within the mobile apps ecosystem. It concludes that although a PbD approach is implied for compliance by a responsible party with POPIA, legislative reforms are necessary. It proposes amendments to POPIA to address inadequacies in the requirements for notice, and to impose obligations on a responsible party in relation to the sharing of personal information with third parties who will process the personal information for further, separate purposes.