In 2020, Everlytic and Elizabeth from Novation Consulting hosted a POPIA Webinar Series to unpack the legalities of the POPIA legislation that will be enforceable in South Africa from 1 July 2021. In this POPIA Q&A blog series, we share some of the questions we received during the three webinars and the answers Elizabeth provided. This blog covers the questions we received about data privacy laws and using personal information.

POPIA Q&A: Are There Loopholes to Data Privacy Laws? | Data Privacy | Woman working on laptop | Blog image

Data Privacy Laws & Using Personal Information Q&A:

This is technical and controversial. What we know from overseas Regulators is that they generally don’t accept legitimate-interest arguments for the buying and selling of personal information or for scraping public sources / the internet. We believe our Regulator will probably follow a similar approach.

The cell phone on its own doesn’t reveal a person’s identity, but there are ways to reverse-lookup the data using the number. So, even though you don’t have the person’s name, this does still count as personal information. POPIA, therefore, does apply in this case.

At any event, you’ll probably contact the person using this number, which is marketing. So, if you’re sending SMSs, you’ll need to ask for consent to contact them, and for telemarketing you’ll need to respect their request to opt out of your calls if they ask.

You’re good to go if:

  • You got the leads in the context of them purchasing your goods or services
  • You told them you’d use their information for direct marketing
  • You’ve always given them the opportunity to reliably opt out
  • It’s the same or similar goods or services that you’re marketing to them

If you can’t meet all these, decide if you’re prepared to take a risk-based approach. If your opt-out process is water-tight, your list may not be 100% POPIA complaint, but your chances of people complaining is significantly lower. And you’ll have a base from which you can discuss with the Regulator if they do.