Like most South Africans with any access to technology you’ll have been bombarded with emails and text messages lately from businesses all basically saying the same thing.: your personal information is safe with us. We take the new legislation seriously. We’re committed to your safety.
There’s a reason for this sudden influx of emails. It’s all because of the new Protection of Personal Information (Popi) Act, which came into effect on 1 July and is designed to protect consumers in an era where sharing your personal information can make you extremely vulnerable.
Still a little in the dark? Keen to know what exactly this means to you and how it can affect your everyday life?
We unpack the facts.
WHAT IS THE POPI ACT?
It’s a law regulating the processing of personal information in South Africa and is the go-to legislation when your information is abused or companies don’t protect it properly.
Personal information is anything that can identify you, including your name, age, ID number, address, financial information and biometric information, such as your blood type, fingerprints, DNA analysis and voice recognition.
The act applies to all South African entities that collect, use or handle your personal information. Companies must rework their communication tools and be sure to have consumers’ consent to remain on their system – which is why we’ve been getting emails and messages assuring us our info is safe but giving us the option to opt-out if we want to.
Company contracts also have to be amended to include Popi compliance clauses.
Popi ensures your information can only be used for the specific purpose for which it was originally obtained.
For instance, if a department store such as Game collects your contact details to deliver a fridge, they aren’t permitted to send you marketing material for cellphone insurance from a third party.
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