The Protection of Personal Information Act (or POPI Act) is South Africa’s equivalent of the EU GDPR. It sets some conditions for responsible parties (called controllers in other jurisdictions) to lawfully process the personal information of data subjects (both natural and juristic persons). The POPI Act does not stop you from processing and does not require you to get consent from data subjects to process their personal information. Whoever decides why and how to process personal information is responsible for complying with the conditions. There are eight general conditions and three extra conditions. The responsible party is also responsible for a failure by their operators (those who process for them) to meet the conditions.

The POPI Act is important because it protects data subjects from harm, like theft and discrimination. The risks of non-compliance include reputational damage, fines and imprisonment, and paying out damages claims to data subjects. The biggest risk, after reputational damage, is a fine for failing to protect account numbers.

The biggest impact is on organisations that process lots of personal information, especially special personal informationchildren’s information, and account numbers. The most affected industries are financial services, healthcare, and marketing.

What is the POPI Act timeline?

POPI commences on 1 July 2020. Giving you a 12 month grace period to get your organisation POPI compliant by the POPIA deadline of 1 July 2021. POPIA will be regulated by a new Information Regulator while within your organisation, your Information Officer is the key person to ensure compliance.

POPI Act Summary for Executives

If you’re looking for a POPI Act summary to give your board or governing body, we can help you to prepare a short handout and even present the executive briefing.

Need assistance with POPI compliance?

We are currently helping organisations comply with the POPI Act.

  • Empower yourself with practical knowledge by joining a Data Protection Programme, attending our POPI Act workshop, or a POPIA webinar.
  • Raise awareness in your organisation by arranging for us to facilitate your own private in-house POPI Act workshop.

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