Digital Profiteers: Who Profits next from social grants?
Investigation by: Michael Marchant, Abby May, Erin Torkelson and Zen Mathe
25 November 2021
Globally, there has been inadequate scrutiny of how companies are profiting from their access to personal data gathered through government contracts under the auspices of providing public services. When there is inadequate regulation and poor transparency, these new digital developments can create possibilities for massive profit taking on the part of corporations and greater political control by the state. Both are achieved through the surveillance of individuals via the data they submit to access social protection guaranteed by the Constitution.
In this report, we focus on GovChat, a small South African technology company, and SASSA’s most visible partner in its digitalization drive. In early 2020, GovChat offered its services to SASSA for free to set up a WhatsApp platform for the Covid-19 SRD grant application process.