Many people are waiting for confirmation of the POPI commencement date. For any project it is always helpful to know your deadline. Parliament and the Minister are yet to give us a clear indication of the POPI timeline.
POPI became law in 2013. In terms of the Act, Parliament must now appoint an Information Regulator. Parliament asked for nominations for the position of the Information Regulator. Candidates were nominated by 14 August 2015 and we’ve been waiting for Parliament to make the appointment. However, Parliament asked for a meeting on the role of the Information Regulator. The meeting was held on 11 November 2015.
Parliament has now asked for another workshop on POPI in 2016
The outcome of that meeting was that Parliament has asked for another workshop to be set up next year for all relevant stakeholders to discuss various things like:
- Why POPI is important?
- How will it protect the poor?
- Who does it protect? Business? Government? Citizens?
- The role of the Information Regulator.
- How does it fit in with POSI and PAIA.
- Whether POPI addresses the “right to be forgotten”.
There are answers for all these questions, and we’re not sure why this workshop is necessary. All of these issues were discussed as part of the 10 year long legislative process of enacting POPI. Why is Parliament now reluctant to appoint the Information Regulator? Could it be that Government (public bodies) have realised that the Information Regulator is an independent body (like the Public Protector and other Chapter 9 institutions) that could hold government responsible for failing to protect the personal information of people that government processes? Government bodies (like SARS, Home Affairs) process lots of personal information of all South African citizens, who require protection and recourse from transgressions in terms of POPI.
In the absence of other information, we presume the process to appoint the Information Regulator is on hold until after the workshop next year. With local government elections next year in May 2016, we anticipate that the POPI commencement date will be in the second half of 2016.
The POPI Commencement Date will probably only be in the second half of 2016
What does this mean for you and your business?
This does not mean that you should stop taking steps to protect personal information. Maybe have a longer holiday this year (we all need a break), but you need to protect people (like your customers and employees) from the harm they can suffer if you fail to protect their personal information. In turn, you will protect your organisation’s reputation. Both are important and apply regardless of what laws are in place when. It is also important that South Africa is seen (in the eyes of the rest of the world) as a country that provides adequate protection to personal information, because otherwise their law will prevent them from dealing with us.
Data protection is still important
We are still passionate about protecting people from harm and helping organisations avoid legal problems, so we’re again running public workshop on POPI next year in February in all the major centres. We’re running our normal one-day workshop covering all the practical aspects of POPI, but we’re also running short two hour workshops focusing on key insights. We’d love to see you there. Members of Parliament are also welcome to attend.