New Privacy Laws Proposed For SA
Personal Information Law Before Parliament
According to a recent report in Die Burger, new legislation has been approved by Cabinet that will prevent any institution from divulging personal information unless required by law to do so, as in the case of court injunctions.
The law prohibits the sale of personal information to any external agency such as telemarketers, and requires that permission be obtained from every person appearing on the list before any such sale can take place.
The law will also stipulate that telemarketers using existing lists must accede to all requests that they not contact members of the public, and should a person inform the telemarketer that they never want to be phoned again, the marketer must immediately remove their name from the list.
Cabinet has approved the presentation of this new legislation before Parliament, and government plans to ensure that the new laws are added to the statute books before foreign tourists begin to arrive for the World Cup next year.
According to Ananda Louw, who headed the research (which began in 2003) that preceded the proposal of the new laws, said that the new legislation would bring South Africa into accord with the more than 50 other countries which already had such strict laws.
Last week, the Judicial Service Commission, which compiled the legislation, said that the net of protection of information would be cast widely, and apply to everyone, “from churches to banks, schools and the video shop where you do business.”
Companies who do not comply with the law, and put measures in place to protect people’s personal information, will be liable for criminal prosecution.
Balancing Freedom Of Information & Privacy Protection
Ananda Louw explained, “With this legislation, we’ve hopefully managed to maintain a delicate balance between the legal free flow of information on the one hand, and the protection of people’s personal information on the other.”
She added, “We were also very much focused on abolishing so-called electronic junk mail, or spam.”
According to Louw, the legislation also provides for an information regulator, who would observe and adjudicate institutions which store information.