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When is the POPI Act effective date?

When is the POPI Act effective date? It seems a bit confusing!

When is the POPI Act effective date?It is a bit confusing! However, although the answer to the question “when is the POPI Act effective date?” is currently not fully known, the provisions of POPI do give us an indication as to how long we will have before we will be compelled to comply with POPI. It can be a bit confusing. POPI was in draft form as a Bill of Parliament for a number of years while its provisions were debated and finalised. Then, late last year, POPI was enacted. It is now an Act of Parliament. However, it is not yet in effect. It will come into effect by proclamation by the President in the Government Gazette. However, and this is where it can be confusing, at the date when the President proclaims POPI into effect, we will still not be obliged to comply with the provisions of POPI. The reason for this is set out in terms of POPI itself. POPI provides that we will all have one year from the date that POPI is brought into effect by proclamation by the President, to comply with its provisions. In other words, POPI will not be in force fully until one year  after the President proclaims POPI into effect. This grace period of one year has been provided for so that we all have enough time to make the necessary changes to our organisations in order to comply with the provisions of POPI. The bottom line is that we have at least one year before we will have to comply with POPI (assuming, for example that the President proclaimed the provisions of POPI into force today).

Certain provisions of the POPI Act are already in effect

Despite that set out above, the President has already proclaimed certain sections of POPI into effect, namely the sections that provide for the establishment of a regulator to oversee and enforce the provisions of POPI. One could expect that once the regulator has been established, that the President will proclaim the rest of the provisions of POPI into effect, but there is currently no indication as to when this date may be.

The high level purpose of POPI

POPI was enacted to give effect to the Constitutional right to privacy and is the first comprehensive privacy legislation in South Africa. It has been drafted in line with some of the best privacy legislation found in foreign jurisdictions, most notably the European Union and its main aim is to prevent the unlawful disclosure of personal information. In the coming weeks and months we will be looking at some of POPI’s key provisions on the Gunstons Blog and we will keep you posted as soon as we know the answer to the question, “when is the POPI Act effective date?”

Garth Watson

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