Practice: Time for data protection lawyers is here – Tlakula

A career in human rights is no longer considered as appealing as it was during apartheid or around the birth of democracy, but it is still crucial for lawyers to be equipped to handle litigation around constitutional matters, says Information Regulator Pansy Tlakula in a report in The Sunday Independent. The veteran human rights activist says these days, students want to do other things, such as commercial law or maritime law, ‘things that will bring them money quickly when they go into practice’. ‘But right now, I always tell them that constitutional litigation will never stop. I tell law students they must study data protection because we need lawyers who are going to specialise in this area’.

‘Everyone has to protect personal information, and if you look at the regulation in terms of expression of personal information, there is journalistic exception that you can process personal information, so you can write about my personal details, publish my personal information if you are a journalist, and only if in the public interest, provided it balances my right to privacy and your right to freedom of expression or the public’s right to know. I do not know where the balance lies. And this surely is going to be an issue that will go to court, resulting in the need for lawyers to be trained in this area,’ she says. Tlakula, who holds a BProc degree from the University of the North (now University of Limpopo), an LLB degree from the University of the Witwatersrand and an LLM degree from Harvard University, urges people keen on law to delve deeper into the new areas around protection of data not because of the current role she occupies but because of its potential impact on society.

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