What is the POPI Act and how would it protect us from cyber attacks?

What is the importance of protecting your online activity and how does the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI Act), 2013 seek to protect you?

Amongst prominent corporates, JP Morgan Chase, FNB, the Gautrain and MyBroadband have all been victims of cyber attacks in recent months. With JP Morgan's breach, the personal information of 76 million households and 7 million small businesses were compromised - a case that's considered one of the largest intrusions ever.

‎Director of IT Advisory at Grant Thornton South Africa, Michiel Jonker says that this protective law is perhaps inappropriate for the South African context:

Overall, it is a good thing that companies and government in South Africa do treat personal data in a more secure way. Do keep in mind that Section 14 of the Constitution does give us the right to privacy. Data privacy does make business sense. We (however) believe that Africa and South Africa aren't ready for data privacy. This is an act that's been in place in the EU for many years already, which is far more first-world and sophisticated. The one thing that concerns me is that there's no growth in South African companies right now and the government is actually struggling to provide services to citizens. The last thing on their minds is a sophisticated act like POPI to protect peoples' information. Another thing is there isn't a privacy quota to protect data in South Africa. Data is seen purely as a way to collect and to make profit from it and not to look at the other side of the coin and protect peoples' data from it.

Listen to the conversation below:


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