Further protections to the public's privacy will be enforced by the end of this month as sections of the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013 (POPI) come into effect on 1 July, the Presidency announced on Monday.
The POPI Act gives effect to Section 14 of the Constitution, which provides that everyone has the right to privacy by promoting the protection of personal information processed by public and private bodies, and seeks to balance the right to privacy against other rights, such as access to information.
It has been implemented incrementally since April 2014.
Many of the remaining provisions of the act could only be put into operation at a later stage as they require a state of operational readiness for the Information Regulator to assume its powers, functions and duties in terms of the Act, the Presidency said in a statement.
President Cyril Ramaphosa proclaimed the following sections: Sections 2 to 38; Sections 55 to 109; Section 111; and Section 114(1), (2) and (3).
"The sections which will commence on 1 July 2020 are essential parts of the Act and comprise sections which pertain to, amongst others, the conditions for the lawful processing of personal information; the regulation of the processing of special personal information; Codes of Conduct issued by the Information Regulator; procedures for dealing with complaints; provisions regulating direct marketing by means of unsolicited electronic communication, and general enforcement of the Act," read the statement.
'Fundamental in safeguarding personal information'
"Section 114(1) is of particular importance as it states that all forms of processing personal information must, within one year after the commencement of the section, be made to conform to the Act. This means that entities (both in the form of private and public bodies) will have to ensure compliance with the Act by 1 July 2021.
"However, it stands to reason that private and public bodies should attempt to comply with the provisions of the Act as soon as possible in order to give effect to the rights of individuals."
Sections 110 and 114(4) will commence on 30 June 2021.
The reason for the delay is that these sections pertain to the amendment of laws and the effective transfer of functions of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (PAIA) from the South African Human Rights Commission to the Information Regulator.
In this regard, the commission must finalise or conclude its functions referred to in sections 83 and 84 of PAIA, and all mechanisms must be in place for the regulator to take over these functions.
"Entities which process personal information must ensure that it is done in a lawful way. The Act is fundamental in safeguarding persons' personal information and thus protecting them against data breaches and theft of personal information."