POPI: The Protection of
Personal Information Act

A guide for small business and private practice

› POPI Compliance ⇠ You are here

September 2017

The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) will soon be in effect. Actually, it’s already law – we’re just waiting for a commencement date to be announced this year.

This law applies to all South African businesses that collect personal information of clients and service providers.  

What is the Protection of Personal Information Act?

The Protection of Personal Information Act upholds our right to privacy. It protects you by requiring that all personal information that's held by any business is managed responsibly.

The Act governs what can be done with our personal information. It also gives you the right to take action if your information is not managed responsibly.

The Protection of Personal Information Act sets up the office of the Information Regulator. It establishes laws that the Information Regulator can use to prosecute businesses that fail to take reasonable action to protect personal information.

In September 2016 Advocate Pansy Tlakula was appointed as the Information Regulator and is setting up her office to start work by the end of 2017.

What do I need to do?

If you own a business you need to take action and make sure you manage the personal information that you get from clients according to the Act.

You should do two things: 

  1. Find out HOW the Protection of Personal Information Act affects you and WHAT you must do to comply, and 
  2. Find out HOW to reach full POPI compliance.

How to solve your POPI problem

The first thing I did was to read the Act. You can get your copy of the Protection of Personal Information Act here. When you read it perhaps you'll understand why I fell asleep after 2 paragraphs!

While doing research to understand POPI I came across an impressive free online seminar that gave me all the information I need to understand the new Act. It was great because it saved me time and money and I quickly realised I need to update my passwords!

If you want to find out how to comply with POPI this free seminar for small business owners is a practical and easy choice. You can register for the seminar here or click on the graphic below. It will take an hour of your time and it’s the best investment you can make.

I’ve managed a practice as a psychologist for 16 years. In this time I’ve collected the names, addresses, emails and telephone numbers of all my clients. I’m sure you’ve done the same.

Very soon all of us small business owners will have to tell the Government where we keep this information, how we keep it safe - and we’ll have to tell them if we lose it.

The law applies to every business that collects personal information of clients and service providers.  

That’s all of us in the healthcare industry. Doctors, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and all allied healthcare providers.

Whatever business you run, even if you work alone or employ staff, we all have to comply.

Learn how to comply with the Protection of Personal Information Act

If I keep your personal information I want to ensure that it is safe - and I want all my client's to know that their information is safe too. 

For these reasons my practice will be fully compliant with the Protection of Personal Information Act. We do have time but I don’t want to be stressing at the last minute.

There are four aspects to The Protection of Personal Information Act that we need to know. Once you’ve read these you can choose to ignore the Act, but at least you’ll understand the consequences.

  1. You must comply. It does not matter if you don't know what the Act means. Or what you're supposed to do. You cannot escape the consequences if you lose a PC or backup with client or staff or supplier details on it.

  2. If you make such a mistake ignorance of the law is not an excuse. You face a fine of up to 10 million Rand if you lose someone's information.

  3. If the government can prove negligence you face a criminal sentence up to 10 years. For instance, if you lose a PC loaded with client details, but without adequate password protection.

  4. And finally, if the government finds you guilty of breaching the Act the person whose information you shared/lost will sue you. They cannot lose. The government has already done the hard work.

Click here to register for the free online seminar on what each of us in private practice or small business must do regarding the Protection of Personal Information Act.

The seminar:

  • shows you what needs doing.
  • discusses the impact on your business.
  • tells you why it's important to address it now.
  • And answers your questions.

The 60-minutes spent is a good investment in your practice or small business. It's the most effective solution I've found and I'm convinced it's the most effective solution in South Africa.

Once you've seen the information you can make a decision.

If you choose to put it on hold make a note in your diary for six months from now to look at it again. By then the deadline to comply with the Protection of Personal Information Act will be common knowledge.


PS: Have you ever had your laptop or cellphone stolen? Unfortunately, the reality is that it’s easy to have your laptop stolen in South Africa. It's even easier to lose your cell phone or tablet. 

If you don't comply with POPI and your unprotected laptop (or tablet or smart phone) gets lost or stolen then you face real trouble. We're talking fines up to R10 million and/or 10 years in jail. This does not bode well for your future as a business owner.

Keep the reputation of your small business intact and attract new customers who can trust their information is safe and protected.

The free online POPI seminar will tell you what you need to know and will show you how you can simply and easily comply. Just click on the image below and you're on your way.

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