Information Regulator establishes Enforcement Committee

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For the first time since it was established in 2016, the Information Regulator (IR) will be able to enforce its powers and provide an effective remedy to complainants whose right to privacy and right of access to information have been infringed, IR chairperson Advocate Pansy Tlakula said.

Tlakula was speaking at the induction session, held on 22 July, for the IR’s newly established Enforcement Committee.

Section 93 of the Protection of Personal Information Act (Popia) provides that the Enforcement Committee must consider all matters referred to it by the regulator regarding a complaint, an investigation of a complaint or a finding in respect of the complaint.

Any matter regarding a complaint in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) can also be referred to the Enforcement Committee. The Enforcement Committee is required to make findings in respect of matters referred to it.

Popia further provides that the Enforcement Committee may make any recommendation to the IR necessary or incidental to any action that should be taken against a responsible party in terms of Popia, or an information officer or the head of a private body in terms PAIA.

In a statement issued this month, the IR said the establishment of the committee was “a shot in the arm” to its efforts aimed at confronting the increasing volume of complaints by the public regarding the processing of their personal information by responsible parties, or the denial of access to information by public or private bodies.

In the 12 months since the enforcement powers of the IR came into force, it said 150 access to information complaints and 544 protection of personal information complaints have been submitted to the regulator.

“The Enforcement Committee will play a critical role in resolving some of these cases if they are not resolved at the earlier phases of the case management processes, such as the pre-investigation, investigation and mediation phases,” the IR said.

Composition of the committee

The statement said the Enforcement Committee comprises of 14 independent experts from an array of professions, such as law, information security, education, finance accounting, auditing, actuarial science, forensics and criminal investigations.

It said the committee will be chaired by Advocate Helen Fourie, and Simonè Margadie will serve as the alternative chairperson.

Fourie is a member of the Pretoria Society of Advocates and has served as an acting judge in the North Gauteng High Court. Her Senior Counsel status was conferred in 2018. The focus of Fourie’s practice is providing advice and conducting litigation in matters concerning insolvency law, corporate law, contractual disputes, the National Credit Act, wills and estates, trusts, interdicts and evictions.

Margadie is an attorney and holds a Master of Laws in Corporate and Commercial Law. She was admitted as an attorney of the High Court in 2001. She serves on the panel of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces. Margadie previously served on the panel of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa and the South African Bureau of Standards.