After a many years of waiting, 10 drafts and countless hours of deliberation, the National Assembly finally passed POPI on 11 September.
The road until now
After the Bill was first introduced, almost a decade ago, it is nearing finality at last.
Before it can become a law, a bill must be passed by both Houses of Parliament (the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces). Once a bill has been introduced, a bill is referred to the relevant committee, where it is debated in detail and, if necessary, amended. If there is a lot of public interest in a bill (as with POPI), the committee may organise public hearings.
Once the committee has finalised its deliberations on a bill, it reports to the corresponding House that then decides to adopt it or refer it back to the committee. Once both Houses have approved and adopted a bill, it will be signed into law.
After much deliberations by the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development during August and September 2012 the National Assembly approved the latest draft of POPI.
What is next for POPI?
we will finally see the Bill become a legally enforceable act
The next step is that POPI will be tabled in the National Counsel of Provinces for deliberations. All indications are that the National Council of Provinces will approve it without any significant changes.
If POPI is passed by both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, it will be sent to the President to sign it into law and we will finally see POPI become a legally enforceable act.
This means that companies will have one year (from the date of commencement) to ensure that they put the right measures in place to avoid penalties and possible imprisonment for contravening POPI.