Implementation of POPI Act means companies must secure their information

| 23 April 2013

The Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act will soon become law, with the latest draft having been passed by the national assembly, and set to be adopted by the National Council of Provinces by mid 2013. Nashua Finance, Managing Director, Bertus Korb, explains the implications of non-compliance with the Act, and the steps that should be taken to secure data and information.

In today’s technologically connected office environment, information and data flows more freely through an organisation than ever before. This scenario has resulted in the personal information of both employees and clients becoming ever-present and instantly accessible for numerous people.

In light of this situation, companies should be aware that failure to secure this information could soon result in legal or criminal action being incurred against their enterprises, with the POPI Act fast becoming a legal reality in South Africa.

The POPI Act is regarded as a well-balanced piece of legislation, and is very much in line with similar legislation existing in about 70 to 80 countries. The scope of the Act is extremely wide, with the personal information of every legal entity and individual person closely protected through the enforcement of the statute.

The Act is primarily based on certain protection conditions relating to the way information is used and re-used by the recipients of the information. Further, it is the responsibility of the party gathering the information to ensure it is accurate, current and not misleading. Essentially, information may only be processed if voluntary, specific and informed consent is obtained.

Contravention of the Act could result in serious implication for a company, with ensuing legal processes. This includes fines of up to R10 million, and prison sentences between one and ten years. It is therefore clear to see that companies who deal with a information which can be linked to any person or legal entity will have to take prudent measures to protect both their client and themselves. Failure to do so will expose both the company and stakeholders associated with the company to undeniable legal ramifications that could seriously affect its operational effectiveness, and even result in imprisonment for some individuals.

As the leading distributor of digital office automation equipment and document output solutions in Southern Africa, Nashua Limited is able to provide its clients with customised document management solutions that help ensure that company data is comprehensively managed and secured at all times.

Using the latest and most advanced technology and solutions, Nashua assists companies to increase the  management and security of their documents by providing full auditability on all its system and devices. Subsequently, they are able to track and monitor the workflow of client documents, and ensure that vital pieces of information will not be misplaced, fall into the wrong hands or inappropriately destroyed, for example.

While the POPI Act will soon become a reality, there is no need for companies to panic. By simply implementing intelligent solutions, such as those offered by Nashua as well as relooking at their own internal policies and processes, companies will be able to rest easy in the knowledge that all data and information in the company has been secured, and they comply with the guidelines of the POPI Act.