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Preparing for PoPI


- Featured article by LAWYERS-ONLINE.CO.ZA - April 2019

Recently, it was revealed that only 34% of organisations are deemed ready to comply with the Protection of Personal Information Act 2 of 2013. A shocking number considering that the act was signed into effect all the way back in 2013. The full force of the act may not yet have taken hold, but it does not excuse organisations being so lax in their preparations for this new legislation (or looking for loopholes). But the day is coming soon, and it is better to build a defence than an expensive offence for being on the wrong side of legislation.

As the Information Regulator established by the act starts taking on staff and protocols are created, so you too should be getting familiar with the act and how to remain when compliant when PoPI takes effect. So what should you do to prepare for PoPI? Let’s take a look at a few tips below:

  • Be familiar with how to process personal information under the act and do so accordingly, after all, the aim of the act is to protect the personal information of consumers
  • Ensure that you are keeping up to date with regulations as they are published and created
  • Because consumers will have the choice to “opt-in”, marketers will have to keep this in mind when approaching potential clients and while gathering data. At the moment, consumers only have the choice to “opt-out”, meaning they never asked to be on any list and can only ask to be taken off
  • Social Media Influencers will also be affected by PoPI and although they may not process personal information, through their platform they have access to many social accounts and as such, all sponsored content will have to be declared – no more casually dining at your “favourite” restaurant without declaring that the meal was free

And what if you aren’t compliant? What are the potential consequences for those organisations or individuals who are in breach of PoPI regulations? Let’s look at a few:

  • Heavy fines to up to value of R10 million
  • Severe damage to the reputation of the organisation – after all, no company wants to be seen as untrustworthy by consumers
  • A possibility of potential civil actions, resulting in financial and reputational losses

As you can see, being unprepared for the day that PoPI comes into full effect is not an option. While it may have been quietly simmering in the background for years, there is a tidal wave of personal information protection coming, much to the detriment of marketing as we know, but more so to the benefit of consumers who may soon be able to pick up the phone without fear of a robot trying to sell them insurance on the other end.

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