Are you ready for POPI Act coming 1 July 2021?

POPI Compliance 

The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI Act) aims to protect people’s right to privacy regarding their personal information which may have been collected by a third party during the course of business. All companies have until 1 July 2021 to ensure that they abide by the POPI Act, and make any necessary amendments within their business to ensure compliance.

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa guarantees the right to privacy. Section 11 of the Consumer Protection Act states that every person has the right to refuse or accept any communication that is direct marketing. POPI seeks to ensure that private information is kept safe, but that access to information isn’t infringed either, and that the two rights are balanced fairly.  Section 69 of the POPI Act has changed the way that companies handle direct marketing by means of electronic communication, and the scope of what is allowed has been drastically reduced. 

Any company or business that collects, processes and stores any personal information of clients or employees must ensure that they are compliant with POPI, and ensure that information is dealt with appropriately. Section 69 states that direct marketing includes any sort of direct tactics used by companies in an attempt to get new business. Direct marketing includes email, electronic communication, SMS, faxes and calling a person. Direct marketing is prohibited in terms of POPI unless the receiver of the communication has given consent to receive it, or is a customer of the company who is direct marketing. 

Companies may approach people who they wish to direct market to on one occasion only and on the condition that they have not previously withheld consent to receive direct marketing from the company. 

Companies are only entitled to direct market to existing customers if the customers’ contact details were obtained during the sale of a product or service, and only for the purpose of direct marketing services or products similar to those which the customer already has received from the company. Furthermore, the customer must have been provided with a reasonable opportunity to opt-out of receiving such direct marketing easily, and free of charge, and at any point. If consent is refused, it should not be asked for again, and the decision of the person should be respected. 

Any direct marketing must contain the details of the company sending the communication, or on whose behalf the communication has been sent, and contact details of where to request that the direct marketing stop. POPI thus does not prohibit direct marketing, but simply regulates it by ensuring that people’s rights to privacy are protected and that companies do not infringe on the rights of existing or prospective customers. Consent to direct market should therefore be obtained where necessary and people should be given the chance to unsubscribe from direct marketing at any point.

Should your business need assistance in ensuring that you are complying with POPI in respect of direct marketing, contact Invictus to assist you.