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POPI is about to bloom - but how will it affect you?

Property Management Services
I’ve heard about POPI – but what is it?
POPI stands for the Protection of Personal Information Act – it’s a new South African law that focuses on protecting your personal information and sets out the responsibilities of companies and organisations that process your information.

When does POPI take effect?
POPI came into force on 1 July 2020, but all organisations that handle your personal information were given a 1-year period of grace. In other words, they must achieve full compliance by 1 July 2021.

Which organisations does POPI apply to?
POPI refers to organisations that ‘process’ data about you. In the Act, ‘processing’ is a very broad term that includes collecting, storing, sorting, organising, categorising, updating, using, modifying or sharing data – in other words, any activity at all related to your personal information.

The Act makes anyone that does anything with your data a ‘responsible party’ – that is, they will be responsible for the security of your personal data, and how it is used. This will of course include community schemes (Sectional Title and Homeowners Associations).

What counts as my personal information?
Any information that can be used to identify you, like your name, DOB or contact details. It also includes information about your race and gender, or your opinions or preferences. It even includes biometric data like your fingerprints or the unique patterns in your eyes that retina scanners can read. Any information about your children or your account numbers definitely also counts. If you live in a complex or a community scheme, your personal information could also include registers of owners and tenants, survey results, levy payment records and even CCTV footage taken in your complex.

Why do we need POPI?
POPI requires all data processors – including community schemes, bodies corporate and residents’ associations – to ensure that they are 100% transparent in the way they process your personal information.

Ultimately, POPI is there to protect you from harm (like theft, fraud or discrimination) that could be caused by people misusing or revealing your personal information.

What will change in my complex?
By the end of June, the body corporate or residents’ association in your complex needs to make sure that they are complying 100% with all their POPI obligations. They will need to appoint a designated Information Officer who will be responsible for POPI compliance. Also, they will have to come up with policies and procedures for how they handle your personal information.

They will need to let you know what information they collect about you, and what they do with it. They’ll also have to let you know how to check what information they have about you. Last but not least, they need to tell you what their plans are if they get hacked or there’s a data breach.

What if this doesn’t happen in my complex?
If you suffer any kind of harm as a result of how your personal information is used, the officers of your body corporate or residents’ association could face fines or even imprisonment. It’s clear that the government is taking this very seriously – so it’s good to know that your personal information will be even safer going forward.

Is our complex compliant?
Being a professional Managing Agent, one of our key functions is to continuously strive to keep our clients compliant with any legislative changes to the industry. The POPI Act is no different and we have approached attorneys to offer our clients a comprehensive solution. Most have already taken this up and we are busy liaising with the balance before the deadline is due.

Disclaimer: Kindly note that the above article is merely for information, and is not intended to be comprehensive nor to provide legal advice. Solver Property Services, its employees and agents can in no way be held liable for the accuracy or otherwise of the contents of this article, or for the consequences of any action taken or not taken by any person or organisation based on the contents herein.

For more information, please contact 010 822 2882. Solver Property Services has a team of experienced Property Managers that can assist you. Managing Agent Gauteng.

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