Consumer Rights: The Case of South Africa and Malaysia

DOI 10.14707/ajbr.130012

Laura Best    Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
Peter Cunningham    Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa

Abstract
As access to the Internet expands across the world, greater numbers of people are buying goods and services on-line, through electronic transactions. In this process, people are disclosing personal data. If this is not effectively protected, a person’s right to privacy stands to be violated. This review paper considers the extent to which legislation in South Africa and in Malaysia offers consumers protection when they transact on-line and when they provide personal data in the process, including when using social media sites. It is a reflective piece based on the researcher’s personal insights due to more than a decade of experience serving on consumer adjudication statutory structures in South Africa. It is also informed by interviews during visits in December 2012 to Malaysian consumer regulatory offices and non-governmental organizations that focus on consumer protection issues.

The findings show that in both countries legislation does not extend far enough to offer consumers redress when they transact electronically. Recently separate legislation for the protection of personal data has been introduced in both countries, and it is thus too soon to assess whether this legislation will be effective. There are initial steps being taken at a geo-political regional level through the Association South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to encourage individual countries to all establish consumer protection and personal information protection legislation, as well as to promote inter-country co-operation in this regard. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) can learn lessons from this, to take similar steps among member-countries.

Keywords:  Consumer, consumer rights, laws and structures related to consumers, South Africa, Malaysia, personal information protection

 

 
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