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Information Regulator says it noted DBE decision not to publish matric results

The Department of Basic Education announced that the 2021 matric results would not be published in the newspapers to protect the information of learners. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

The Department of Basic Education announced that the 2021 matric results would not be published in the newspapers to protect the information of learners. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Jan 13, 2022

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Cape Town - The Information Regulator said on Thursday it noted the decision of the Department of Basic Education to stop the publication of matric results on public platforms ostensibly in compliance with the Protection of Personal Information Act (Popia).

This comes after DBE announced that the 2021 matric results would not be published in the newspapers to protect the information of learners.

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In a statement, the Information Regulator of South Africa said it met with the department on January 12 to discuss its approach in bringing the processing of personal information in the form of matric results in compliance with Popia and the conditions that should be adhered to.

The institution’s spokesperson Nomzamo Zondi told Independent Media that the Regulator cannot agree or disagree with the DBE.

“It is for the Regulator to ensure that the decision of the DBE is in compliance with the provisions of Popia. Therefore, if DBE had decided to publish the results they would have had to adhere to Popia as per the Regulator's advice.

“It is the view of the Regulator that DBE has a duty to ensure that matriculants receive their results and that all learners can access the results in an appropriate manner. With regards to Popia, a responsible party such as the DBE, is empowered to decide how to bring its actions or decisions in compliance with Popia. In this case, the Regulator will assess any decision regarding the publication of matric results based on the provision of Popia,” Zondi said.

She said the law made provision for such an eventuality under clear rules for safeguarding personal information, which was the cardinal principle.

These rules include, for example, a requirement for agreement between the department and a dissemination platform prescribing how that platform should process the personal information.

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Zondi said such an agreement should bind the platform on processing personal information in terms of Popia, with a specific requirement for safeguarding of personal information supplied to the dissemination platform.

Zondi said it was the view of the Regulator that the protection of personal information of learners was a priority and the provisions of Popia must be adhered to, such as acquiring consent from the learners or competent person (parent or legal guardian acting on behalf of the learner).

In instances where personal information related to results being disseminated, Popia would also require that the grade 12 learners be advised of such an intention to disseminate the information, and be advised of their right to object to such dissemination of information.

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“Popia is a law that seeks to protect personal information from harmful use and violation of the rights to privacy. It is not a system, but an Act that gives effect to a Constitutional right, section 14, which is the right to privacy,” she said.

She said that the best way of protecting information is by applying the provision prescribed in the law.

“If the department follows what is provided for in the law, then they are doing the right thing,” she said.

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