Information Regulator intends to draft a guidance note on the interpretation of s 69 of POPIA

August 1st, 2022

Full time members of the Information Regulator, legal practitioners, Collen Weapond; Lebogang Stroom-Nzama, with the Chairperson of the Regulator, Pansy Tlakula and part-time members of the Regulator, legal practitioners, Mfana Gwala and Alison Tilley.

The Information Regulator (the Regulator) of South Africa held a media breakfast briefing on 29 June 2022 in Johannesburg. The Chairperson of the Regulator, legal practitioner, Pansy Tlakula, told the media that the Regulator grounds itself firmly as an organisation that is people-orientated and, as such, is an ally in efforts for the realisation of human rights for the vulnerable, marginalised, and disadvantaged communities.

Ms Tlakula said they participated in the 13th International Conference of Information Commissioners in Mexico, where they had robust engagements on the right of access to information and how the global efforts can advance this right and bring it to its full realisation. ‘As you may know, embedded in our mission statement is our aspiration to be a world-class organisation. Being part of these global platforms allows us to position ourselves and South Africa as one of the leading countries in law and practice regarding the protection of personal information and access to information’, said Ms Tlakula.

Ms Tlakula added that the enforcement of some powers of Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 (POPIA) gives the Regulator the means to secure the rights of data subjects (to whom the personal information relates) and requestors of information. She said that the Regulator can conduct investigations on complaints if the personal information of data subjects had been violated and there has been interference due to unlawful processing of their personal information in terms of Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 or where the requestors have been unjustifiable denied access to information.

Chairperson of the Information Regulator of South Africa, legal practitioner, Pansy Tlakula, spoke at the media breakfast briefing held on 29 June 2022 in Johannesburg.

Ms Tlakula pointed out that the Regulator is concerned that South Africans continue to be bombarded with unsolicited direct marketing messages that do not comply with the provisions of s 69 of POPIA. She said this section prohibits direct marketing by means of unsolicited electronics communications, including automatic calling machines, facsimile machines, SMSs, or e-mails unless the data subjects have given their consent to the processing or is a customer of the responsible party. Ms Tlakula added that there is a debate whether a telephone call constitutes an electronic communication in terms of the definition of electronic communication in POPIA, which is defined as any text, voice sound or image message sent over an electronic communications network, which is stored in sound or in the recipient’s terminal equipment until it is collected by the recipient.

Ms Tlakula said that the Regulator intends to draft a Guidance Note on the interpretation of s 69 of POPIA and will engage relevant stakeholders in this regard. However, she added that s 69 is clear in so far as the requirements for direct marketing through unsolicited electronic communication are concerned.

Kgomotso Ramotsho Cert Journ (Boston) Cert Photography (Vega) is the news reporter at De Rebus.