The POPI Act is South Africa’s data privacy law. This abbreviation stands for the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013. It is sometimes also referred to as POPIA. It governs when and how organisations collect, use, store, delete and otherwise handle personal information.
Most of us are eagerly awaiting the coming-into-effect of POPI on 1 July this year as it will mean that our personal information can’t be shared by businesses anymore. In addition, there will hopefully be no more irritating marketing calls on our phones. In addition, this will bring about changes to the way in which we do things on a daily basis.
Did you know that our faces are deemed to be personal information? However, does this mean that we will no longer be able to share pictures where other individuals happen to be in the photo? Will we need clear permission from everyone?
Social media lawyers say that people who have a social media presence – as well as a ‘brand’ – as part of their ‘business may be treated in a separate category but for ordinary people, the new piece of legislation should not make a big difference.
What Section 12(2)(a) Of POPIA Says
It is vital to note that section 12 (2)(a) of POPIA provides that information needs to be collected directly from the data subject unless, it is included in – or derived from – a public record or the data subject has made it publicly known. Given this exemption, people should be cautious with what information they are sharing online.
Many individuals don’t completely understand the nature of social media, trusting that if they tweet some information to their 100 followers, or if they post something on Facebook that only their friends are able to see, no-one will be able to disseminate their post to a wider audience as well as that their post is thus private. This is not the case. Any person’s friends or followers might share the post, or they could take a screenshot and then share that on other platforms.
With regard to the local and international importance of data protection, it is very necessary to develop a deeper understanding of the requirement for data protection. The human rights implications of privacy may not be ignored or underrated.
Organisations which wish to retain their relevance and their competitive edge are now required to transform the way they think about privacy. For instance, more stringent corporate governance rules across jurisdictions have necessitated a shift towards the more effective management of resources (including data). This is both in terms of how it is collected and how it is shared.
Personal Information May Be Gathered But Only For A Legitimate Purpose
It is vital to remember that POPIA does not mean no information can be gathered. For instance, personal information at a Covid registration or a security gate is permitted but only for a legitimate purpose. However, posting about neighbours’ transgression on a neighbourhood WhatsApp group or in a Facebook post is a no-no – rather go and drop a note in their letterbox.
If you would like to learn more about social media, then you should do our Social Media Marketing Course. Follow this link to find out more.
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