Security, privacy and ethics in electronic records management in the South African public sector

  • M Ngoepe
  • L Mokoena
  • P Ngulube
Keywords: Ethics, Electronic records management, Government departments, Information security, Privacy, Public sector, South Africa Introduction

Abstract

Computers have become such valuable tools for conducting business
that today people would have difficulty imagining work without them.
One great advantage of the computers is the ease with which a large
quantity of data can be analysed, manipulated and shared among
people. However, there are a number of compelling security, privacy
and ethical dilemmas raised by computer systems. For example, the
monitoring of employee e-mails by employers to prevent them from
wasting organisation’s resources on non-business activities. This
article seeks to investigate security, privacy and ethical dilemmas in
the electronic records management environment in the South African
public sector. In order to draw inferences and recommendations, a
survey was conducted on existing national government departments
in South Africa. Firstly, findings of the literature review (content
analysis) are discussed. Secondly, the results from the survey are
analysed and interpreted. The article concludes by arguing that without
a proper information security framework and professional code of
ethics that embrace electronic records management, government
departments could expose themselves to unnecessary financial
losses due to litigations resulting from invasion of privacy and unethical behaviour, and urges government departments in South Africa to implement Electronic Document and Records Management Systems that are able to capture records in read-only format and generate a non-editable audit trail of all actions to address security dilemmas of electronic records.
Section
Articles

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eISSN: 0376-4753