As of 1 July 2021, public and private bodies are required to be compliant with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA). The Act promotes the protection of personal information processed by public and private bodies and seeks to balance the right to privacy against other rights, such as access to information.
Failure to comply with certain provisions of POPIA may result in the Information Regulator (IR) imposing an administrative penalty of up to R10 million or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years, or to both a fine and such imprisonment, the regulator warned earlier this year.
The Information Regulator took over the regulatory mandate functions relating to the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) 2000 as of 30 June 2021. Key objectives of PAIA are to promote transparency, accountability and effective governance of all public and private bodies, as well as to assist members of the public to effectively scrutinise and participate in decision making by public bodies.
“PAIA ensures that the state promotes a human rights culture and social justice. It also encourages openness and is there to establish mechanisms or procedures which give effect to the right of access to information in a speedy, inexpensive, and easy manner,” the Information Regulator said this week.
The Promotion of Access to Information Amendment Act 31 of 2019 (PAIA Amendment Act), which amended the PAIA, came into operation on 1 April 2021.
“In terms of the PAIA Amendment Act, the information on the private funding of political parties and independent candidates must be recorded, preserved and made available upon request by the public and the head of the political party is the Information Officer, who must be registered with the Regulator in terms of section 55(2) of POPIA.
“In relation to PAIA manuals, the scope of information that the manual must cover has been widened to include matters relating to the processing of personal information in terms of POPIA,” the Regulator said.
Up to now, exemption has allowed smaller private bodies to be exempt from developing a manual.
The current exemption expired on 30 June 2021 and the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, has extended the current exemption by a further six months effective from 1 July 2021 to 31 December 2021. This is to afford private bodies currently exempted adequate time to compile their PAIA Manual.
“As this is a final exemption in terms of section 51(4) of PAIA, effective from 1 January 2022, all public and private bodies (including those that are currently exempted) must have their PAIA Manual available at their principal place of business or on their website,” the Information Regulator said.
“In terms of sec 51(1) of PAIA, as amended, all previously developed PAIA manuals of both public and private bodies must be updated to include provisions relating to the processing of personal information in terms of POPIA. In order to simplify the compilation process of PAIA Manuals in terms of section 14 and 51 of PAIA, the Regulator will publish PAIA manual templates shortly as a guide,” the Regulator said. –SAnews.gov.za