May 312013
 May 31, 2013  Posted by  Non-U.S.

Johannesburg, South Africa — (SBWIRE) — 05/31/2013 — Pamela Stein, partner at leading South African corporate law firm, Webber Wentzel gives an overview of the Protection of Personal Information Bill which aims to give full effect to the constitutional right to information privacy. The bill was approved by the South African Parliament in 2012 and is expected to be signed into law during 2013.

After seven years of deliberations and numerous reviews, South Africa’s first comprehensive data protection law, the Protection of Personal Information Bill (POPI) was approved by Parliament in September 2012, and is expected to be signed into law during 2013. Thereafter, organisations will have a transitional period of one year to ensure compliance with POPI before its provisions take effect.


POPI regulates every aspect of the processing of personal information, and is based on European data protection law.

The rationale for POPI is to give full effect to the constitutional right to informational privacy, which is a distinct element of the right to privacy protected under the South African Constitution. POPI provides substantive content to this right, by establishing a threshold of minimum conditions for the processing of personal information and providing individuals with rights and remedies to protect their personal information.

The lengthy and detailed deliberations on the Bill have allowed the drafters to draw on the experience of data protection regulation in the European Union (EU), including the recent comprehensive review of EU data protection law which resulted in the Draft Regulation on Data Protection (draft Regulation). A number of proposals in the draft Regulation have been included in the final draft of POPI.

POPI will apply to every person who processes the personal information of another (the responsible party), with some exclusions. Processing in the course of household or personal activity is excluded, as is processing by state bodies involved in crime prevention and national security, cabinet meetings, and where judicial functions are exercised.

A significant exclusion is the processing of personal information which takes place solely for the purpose of journalistic, literary or artistic expression. Interestingly, POPI applies to juristic persons. This is consistent with the approach of the South African Constitutional Court that, although juristic bodies do not have all the personality rights, they do have a right to privacy.

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