South Africa passes Data Protection Bill

South Africa’s Parliament approved the Protection of Personal Information Bill on 22 August. The Parliament issued the following statement: ‘The Bill gives expression to the right to privacy provided for in the Constitution. The right to privacy includes the right to protection against unlawful collection, retention, dissemination and use of anyone’s personal information.

The Bill is comprehensive and regulates the manner in which personal information may be processed, by establishing conditions in harmony with international standards that prescribe the minimum threshold requirements for the lawful processing of personal information.

As a means of achieving its objectives, the Bill establishes the Office of the Information Regulator as an independent, statutory body, accountable to the National Assembly. The Information Regulator, amongst other duties and functions, will take over from the Human Rights Commission powers and functions relating to the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). The Bill has been referred to the President for his assent.’

PL&B Asia Pacific editor, Professor Graham Greenleaf said: "Once assented to by President Zuma, South Africa's Act (commonly called POPI) will be the world's 101st data privacy law, and the 20th enacted this decade. It is the 11th such law in sub-Saharan Africa, which could soon become the region outside Europe with the highest concentration of data privacy laws because there are Bills known in seven other countries. The economic significance of South Africa, both within and outside Africa, also makes this Act a significant milestone in the expansion of data privacy legislation globally."

A full analysis of this law will be published in a future issue of PL&B International.