PoPI is not a Flower – Part 1

South Africa’s Constitution is regarded as one of the best in the world when it comes to safeguarding the rights of its citizens. From it evolved a number of interventions aimed specifically at preventing misuse of personal information.

  • The Protection of Private Information Act (PoPI) is the latest of a whole host of pieces of legislation aimed at safeguarding the privacy of citizens
  • The Common Law addresses infringement of personal rights (dignitas), listening in on private conversations and delict (iniuria)
  • Section 14 of the Constitution focuses on basic human rights, including the right not to have your home or property searched, and the right to privacy of communications
  • The Consumer Protection Act looks after a consumer’s right to privacy, his or her right to restrict unwanted direct marketing and limits the time for contacting consumers
  • The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Act prohibits the interception of communication
  • The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act ensures protection of personal Information obtained via electronic transactions and requires express written permission of the data subject to process information and
  • The FAIS Act, and specifically Board Notice 106, regulates access rights and data security, while the General Code of Conduct divines that you may not disclose confidential information without consent and also stipulates your fiduciary duty to act in the client’s best interests.

You may very well ask: is PoPI is really necessary?

The purpose of this new legislation is to regulate the processing of personal information. It sets out to:

  • Promote the protection of personal information
  • Introduce certain conditions for processing personal information
  • Establish an Information Regulator and
  • Establish Codes of Conduct for those affected by this Act.

While doing research on the internet for this article I was astounded by the number of “specialist service providers” advertising their wares. I have no problem with people spotting a gap and offering their services, but when exorbitant fees are charged for what is often a “copy-and-paste” job, I draw the line. When the Promotion to Access of Information Act was introduced, we offered to assist IFAs with their own manuals at R250. Some legal firms did exactly what we did, charging R5 000.

Next week we look at some of the important definitions contained in POPI.

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