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POPI – Be Compliant, not Defiant! Part I

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POPI – Be Compliant, not Defiant! Part I

Direct marketers have been methodically preparing for the eventual promulgation of the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) act – ratified by the President late last year. I recently attended a fascinating seminar on the subject by John Giles of Michalsons Attorneys. He emphasised that we all need to be highly cognisant of the implications of the act – our rights as consumers and our responsibilities and obligations as marketers or disseminators of information.

The consequences for how Customer Relationship Management (CRM) practitioners and direct marketers reach their respective constituencies are obvious. CRM is essentially manages all cross-platform interaction with present and future customers. It bears the responsibility of maintaining and synchronising the sales, marketing, customer service and technical support functions in a bid to ultimately streamline all customer interactions from all divisions of the business concerned. Outbound, outsourced contact centres will themselves be particularly cautious regarding new approaches to prospects.

Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) – one of the leading international corporate law firms with offices in South Africa, warns companies that the failure to comply with the legislation will result in serious penalties and the rights of the data subject are protected at great length.

The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) was introduced as a groundbreaking piece of legislation that gave local consumers greater clout in protecting themselves from the exploitation or misinformation by suppliers of goods and services. There is an overlap with POPI, just like there is with *PAIA, RICA, ECT and King III. The overlap with POPI, according to Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) is primarily with the consumer’s right to privacy and regarding competitions as the two pieces of legislation jointly regulate competitions in South Africa.

According to NRF, the CPA regulates the content and rules of a particular competition, the administration of the competition and the retention of records after the competition. POPI regulates how you collect the information and what you are allowed to do with it.

For CRM specialists and direct marketers – building and maintaining the relationship with a target constituency through promotions is commonplace. Incentivising the audience with giveaways in a bid to sustain brand interest, or simply to collate personal information (demographic, opinions, preferences etc) has become an almost necessary tool to engage and reengage the audience. The CPA defines a promotional competition as “any competition, game, scheme, arrangement, system, plan or device for distributing prizes by lot of chance if:

  1. It is conducted in the “ordinary course of business” for the purpose of promoting a business or business associate, the sale of goods and services; and
  2. The price offered exceeds R1.50 in value

The information gathered through the promotion is now subject to the statutory regulations of POPI – and although it remains the prerogative of the subject to enter his personal information voluntarily (subject to the opportunity of winning the prize that meet the above criteria), the information proffered once processed, remains subject to the POPI regulatory processing and storing criteria.


PAIA – Promotion of Access to Information Act

RICA – Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Act

ECT – Electronic Communications and Transactions Act


to be continued…

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