E-mail records and the law in South Africa

Although there is no law that requires e-mail providers to store the contents of e-mails in South Africa, Cybersmart CEO Laurie Fialkov explains that logs of e-mails that are sent or received are stored.

The MD of Mweb ISP, Derek Hershaw, went on to say that there is no requirement in South African law, specifically the ECT Act, specifying how long they have to keep this information.

Storage capacity therefore typically determines how long logs are kept, Hershaw said, which he said is somewhere between 4 and 6 months.

“It would typically be information like remote IP, local IP, sender, recipient, date, time” that is stored, Hershaw said.

When service providers do store e-mail, however, there are requirements in the ECT Act as to how “data messages” such as email is stored so that they can be admissible as evidence if needed.

Derek Hershaw
Derek Hershaw – MWEB ISP MD

Afrihost, Axxess, and WebAfrica were also asked for their e-mail storage policies, but only WebAfrica responded by directing us to Internet Solutions.

Hetzner, a web host that offers email services was also asked, but said that they would rather not offer comment.

“Our philosophy is to rather focus our effort on servicing our customers and providing opinion that would directly benefit them,” Hetzner said.

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E-mail records and the law in South Africa