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South Africa’s Protection Of Personal Information Act (POPIA)?

By Privacy Research Team
Published June 21, 2021 / Updated August 23, 2023


South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) comes into effect on 1st July 2021. POPIA applies to public and private bodies that are domiciled in South Africa and process personal information or enter it into a record through either automated or non-automated means. The law also applies to bodies that are not domiciled in South Africa but use means to process personal information in South Africa unless such means are only used to forward the information through the country.

Definition of Personal Information

POPIA covers information relating to identifiable natural persons as well as existing legal persons and it provides the following non-exhaustive definition for what is ‘personal information’:

  • Information relating to the race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, national, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental health, well-being, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth of the person;
  • Information relating to the education or the medical, financial, criminal or employment history of the person;
  • Any identifying number, symbol, e-mail address, physical address, telephone number, location information, online identifier or other particular assignment to the person;
  • The biometric information of the person;
  • The personal opinions, views or preferences of the person;
  • Correspondence sent by the person that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature or further correspondence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence;
  • The views or opinions of another individual about the person; and
  • The name of the person if it appears with other personal information relating to the person or if the disclosure of the name itself would reveal information about the person.

Rights Under South Africa POPIA

POPIA grants the following rights to data subjects with respect to their personal information:

What is CCPA

Right to Information:

Data subjects have the right to be informed when personal data is collected from them directly or indirectly. Data subjects must be informed of the purpose for which the personal information is collected, the intended recipients of the personal information, and other relevant details.

Right to Access:

Data subjects have the right to request the record or description of their personal information held by the organization as well as the identity of all third parties or categories of third parties who have or had access to the information.

Right to Correction:

Data subjects have the right to request correction or deletion of their personal information.

Right to Confirmation:

Data subjects have the right to confirm, free of charge, whether the organization holds any personal information concerning them.

Responsibilities of Information Officer

Under the POPIA, organizations are required to appoint an information officer who will be responsible for encouraging compliance with the provisions of the POPIA. The information officer must ensure the following:

  • A compliance framework is developed, implemented, monitored and maintained,
  • A personal information impact assessment (PIIA) is done to ensure that adequate measures and standards exist in order to comply with the conditions for the lawful processing of personal data,
  • A manual is developed, monitored, maintained and made available, as prescribed in the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000.
  • Internal measures are developed together with adequate systems to process requests for information or access, and
  • Internal awareness sessions are conducted regarding the provisions of POPIA, codes of conduct or information obtained from the regulator.

Automation Towards Compliance

SECURITI’s privacy regulations compliance solution is based on the PrivacyOps methodology, which recruits robotic automation and artificial intelligence. It provides organizations with a system that can help automate the majority of their compliance tasks and in turn, freeing up resources for other areas of business.

SECURITI assists businesses in discovering data over a web of internal and external systems, links personal data with its correct owners, conducts an automated internal assessment of policies as well as third-party vendors, manages consent, and much more!

While organizations may hesitate to take the leap towards automation from their current manual methods for fear of the costs and change in infrastructure, it is clear that automation is truly the way forward. Automation increases ROI as well as productivity lowers cost and improves accuracy. It pays for itself and brings organizations a number of benefits along with it.

Automation helps you with swift and efficient compliance with South Africa’s POPIA as well as other data privacy regulations. Watch it in action today!

Ask for a DEMO today to understand how Securiti can help you comply with South Africa POPIA, GDPR, e-Privacy Directive, and a whole host of other global privacy laws and regulations, with ease and automation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

POPIA stands for the Protection of Personal Information Act. It is a data protection law in South Africa that governs the collection, processing, and protection of personal information.

The main purpose of POPIA is to protect individuals' personal information by regulating how organizations collect, process, store, and share that data. It aims to balance the rights of individuals with the legitimate interests of businesses.

POPIA and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) share similar principles in terms of data protection. However, they are distinct regulations with differences in scope, requirements, and applicability. GDPR applies to the European Union, while POPIA applies to South Africa.

POPIA outlines rules for the lawful processing of personal information, defines individuals' data protection rights, and imposes responsibilities on organizations to protect data. It sets guidelines for obtaining consent, notifying individuals, and handling data breaches.

Organizations, including platforms like WhatsApp, must assess and implement measures to ensure compliance with POPIA's provisions when processing personal data in South Africa.

The four main aims of POPIA are:

  1. Promoting Protection: Promoting the protection of personal information processed by public and private entities.
  2. Balancing Interests: Striking a balance between individuals' right to privacy and the legitimate interests of businesses.
  3. Transparency: Ensuring transparent data processing practices.
  4. Enforcing Accountability: Holding organizations accountable for compliance with data protection principles.

Examples of POPIA provisions include obtaining informed consent before processing personal data, notifying individuals about data processing, and implementing measures to secure and protect data.

Two main purposes of POPIA are to safeguard individuals' personal information from misuse and to establish guidelines for responsible and transparent data processing by organizations.

To become POPIA compliant, organizations need to:

  • Assess current data processing practices.
  • Develop privacy policies and procedures.
  • Obtain consent for data processing.
  • Implement data security measures.
  • Provide individuals with data access and correction rights.
  • Establish processes for handling data breaches.

Yes, POPIA is a law in South Africa. It was enacted to regulate the processing of personal information and protect individuals' data privacy rights.

POPIA protects various types of personal data, including but not limited to names, contact details, identification numbers, financial information, employment history, and more. It encompasses various personal information that organizations handle in their operations.

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