File picture: David Ritchie/Independent Media

JOHANNESBURG - The Right2Know campaign on Monday called on all South Africans to demand that their personal information gets proper legal protection.

Celebrating World Data Privacy Day, the information freedom lobby group said the day was a reminder that private information was not protected, despite the Protection of Personal Information Act of 2013 (the POPI Act), which would prevent personal information being abused by private companies and government agencies. 

It pointed out that five years after it was signed, the law was still not in force - the result of delays in the new government watchdog, the Information Regulator, operational. 

"Headed by Advocate Pansy Tlakula, the Information Regulator would have the mandate to enforce POPI and step in when companies or government agencies misuse our personal information. But it still does not have the staff, resources and systems to fulfil this mandate, and the legal protections for our personal information will not be enacted until this changes," Right2Know said.

“We demand to know when South Africans’ personal information will be protected. The POPI Act is a vital law and we need the watchdog up and running to enforce our privacy rights.”

It called on supporters to sign an online campaign demanding protection for their personal information.

Right2Know said corporate data breaches have exposed tens of millions of South Africans’ personal information. 

This meant that every day, ordinary South Africans get calls and messages from private companies, political parties, and dodgy lenders that have bought or traded people’s private information in the hopes of getting profit or votes, he said.

African News Agency (ANA)