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In plain language: What’s all the fuss about POPI?
25 September 2019  | Anya GeorgeAnya George | Views: 315

We live in the technological age. We do not only live our lives in the physical but also in the digital sphere. We are able to connect with people on the other side of the world within an instant. We can press a button and share what we ate for lunch with the world. In this digital world we are faced with new challenges and one of these challenges is the protection of privacy.


Internationally we have seen an increase in legislation focused on protecting privacy and confidential information. An example of this is the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.  


In South Africa we have the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 (POPI).


Section 14 of the Constitution states that everyone has the right to privacy which includes the right to not have the privacy of their communications infringed. The right to privacy includes informational privacy which is a person’s right to control access to and the use of personal information.  


POPI seeks to give effect to this constitutional right and recognises that the right to privacy includes the right to protection against unlawful collection, retention, dissemination and use of personal information. POPI also provides rights and remedies to protect against abuses of personal information.


POPI was signed into law in 2013 and is yet to come in to operation but if you are a person or work with people, POPI will impact you. All persons and organisations that store, collect or process personal information (these are known as “Responsible Parties”) are required to comply with POPI. All persons who have their personal information stored, collected or processed will have remedies available to them in terms of POPI if such personal information is misused or the security thereof is compromised.


Failure to comply with POPI can have dire consequences for Responsible Parties. In the event of an offence committed in terms of POPI, provision is made for fines of up to R10 million and prison sentence of up to 10 years.  


Keep an eye on my blog posts for more information about POPI - it’s impossible to get to grips with it in one post.