The Regulator held a media briefing on 20 September to bring the media up to speed on developments in her department.
Draft Regulations were published for public comments on the 8 September 2017 with a closing date of 7 November 2017.
The Regulator did not make provision for regulations relating to the processing of health information by certain responsible parties such as insurance companies, medical schemes and pension funds as provided for in section 32(6) of POPIA. She is of the view that interested parties should make submissions in this regard.
Pam Saxby, for Legalbrief Policy Watch, is of the view that this is “…presumably in the hope that this will improve a document clearly requiring a great deal more work given the sensitivities entailed. The statement tends to suggest that these ‘parties’ are more likely to draft something suitable than the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, in which the Information Regulator is located.”
Saxby notes that a Government Gazette notice announcing the imminent availability of the draft regulations for public comment specifically referred to insurance companies, pension funds (and the employers or institutions working for them), managed healthcare organisations, medical schemes and their administrators. It also noted that the information concerned is used to: assess risk; enforce contractual rights and obligations; implement legislation; ensure compliance with collective agreements conferring ‘rights dependent on the health or personal life’ of a data subject; and support those entitled to sickness- or incapacity-related benefits. Yet, confusingly, the draft regulations themselves are completely silent on these complex issues other than in one or two annexures – and even then, rather superficially.
It is envisaged that the draft Regulations will be submitted to Parliament for tabling in February 2018 with an anticipated date of publication of the final Regulations in April 2018.
The remaining sections of POPIA will commence once the Regulator is fully operational, which is expected to be sometime in 2018. All public and private bodies will be expected to be compliant with its provisions within one year of its commencement.