The legal data privacy regime in South Africa currently consists of; The Constitution, The Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) and the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECTA).
Data Privacy is comprised of different policies and processes that will dictate how your businesses utilizes the data it collects, whilst data security is what protects your company’s data from being accessed or used maliciously. Data security may differ from business to business and will be dependent on a number of different factors.
Data Privacy has always been an important aspect for both individuals and companies. It is the reason why people lease safety deposit boxes at bank vaults and put locks on their cabinets. Over the years data has become increasingly digitized and as a result we share more information online, creating a greater importance for data privacy. Data protection laws aim to give back control to individuals over the data they give out and empowers them to be aware of how their data is being used and for what reason.
In the current digital age, the concept of data privacy is typically applied to personal information or special personal information. This includes; Identity Numbers, Medical Records, Financial Data, Bank account and credit card numbers and basic information like full names and addresses. The list of what can be classified as “personal information” and “special information” can be found in POPIA.
Data is an incredibly important asset in today’s digital economy. For a business to safely and successfully take advantage of the data they are utilizing, a business must ensure they have the safeguards in place to ensure that the data is adequately protected. For a business, data privacy will also go beyond the personal information of its employees and customers as it also includes information that helps the company operate, this can include proprietary research and development data or financial information that shows how it may be spending or investing its money.
When data that it is intended to be kept private ends up getting into the wrong hands, we may be in for a series of unfortunate events. For example, a data breach at a government agency, can put top secret military information in the hands of an enemy country. A data breach at a major corporation may put intellectual property data in the hands of a competitor. A data breach at a school could put students special personal information in the hands of criminals who may misuse it.
It is for this reason organizations are now investing in data security programmes like our Labournet Information Compliance Product, in order to help them implement proper data security safeguards. Other reasons include;
Regulatory Compliance: Failure to comply with data privacy laws may lead to fines.
Competitive Advantage: In order to obtain a competitive advantage, particularly for those organisations who operate internationally, data privacy certifications may validate an organizations privacy practices and make the organization more appealing.
Customer Expectations: Customers expect transparency and trust, if this is violated they will always be willing to take their business elsewhere.
Company Values: Supporting privacy as a company value fosters a sense of trust and transparency around your brand’s identity.
It was published on 21 December 2021, where Nomzamo Zondi, spokesperson of the Information Regulator, revealed that a total of 139 South African organizations have reported they have suffered a data breach since the inception of POPI.
Breaching the data privacy rules outlined by POPIA and other acts can have serious financial implications for organizations and have long lasting consequences. POPIA currently makes provisions for fines of upto R10 million and a jail sentence of up to 10 years depending on the extent of the breach.
Data privacy is critical for modern businesses and organizations to survive. Leaders must embed data privacy elements into all processes or policies that affect consumer and employee data within a company. Apart from initial implementation of these policies and processes it is vital to continuously evaluate and update your privacy policies and practices to ensure that you are always utilizing all the resources at your disposal to protect all stakeholders personal information, your business’ bottom line and most importantly, you consumers’ trust in your company.
If you’d like us to help you develop a data security programme for your company, contact our information compliance department for a quote!
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