What South African companies must know about GDPR, POPI

August 11, 2017 1:28 pm12 commentsViews: 49

Cleo Becker,Regional Counsel Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East, Pakistan, Turkey and Israel for Hitachi Data Systems

By Cleo Becker THE conversation around data has become increasingly complex – with multiple pieces of data-focused legislation in play, companies no longer need to simply know how to unlock the value in their data, but also how to make sure they remain compliant.
With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect on  May 25 2018, it’s important for South African businesses which conduct business in the EU to understand exactly how they will be affected. According to the legislation any company which processes the personal data of EU residents in connection with the offering of goods or services, or monitors the behavior of those residents may need to comply.
GDPR will affect SA businesses
There are a number of key requirements set out in Article 5 of the GDPR, which include the responsibility for companies to process personal data lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner, as well as to ensure that personal data is kept accurate and up to date, and only retained for as long as is necessary for a company to achieve the purposes for which the personal data was collected.
There are further requirements stipulated in the legislation of which companies need to take note.  One of the most topical of these may be the obligation for personal data to be processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of that data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage. This is particularly the case due to the growing threat of cyberattacks which target personal data.
These requirements make it essential for companies to know what kind of personal data they hold and where it is stored.
How POPI fits into the picture
To complicate matters, South African companies also need to comply with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI).
Luckily, the provisions across the two pieces of data protection legislation are so similar (save for naming conventions) that complying with the GDPR means complying with POPI should be smooth sailing. For example, both POPI and the GDPR necessitate compliance with certain principles when processing personal data, they both require the regulator be notified in the case of a privacy breach (although notification time periods differ), both POPI and GDPR call for a data protection officer to be appointed, and both place restrictions on and requirements for what personal data can be sent outside of the EU (in the case of the GDPR) and South Africa (in the case of POPI).
Unlike the GDPR, we don’t know when POPI will come into effect. What we do know is that there will be a one-year transitional period for companies to become compliant once the date of implementation is announced.
Make sure you’re ready
Both POPI and the GDPR require companies to identify all the personal data they hold, keep that personal data up to date and accurate, set retention policies around each piece of personal data and put appropriate security safeguards in place to prevent unauthorised access, loss, damage, modification or destruction of that data. This means businesses need to make sure they employ industry best practice when it comes to their technology, IT processes and security, ensuring they have clear policies in place; that their staff are properly trained; and that there is adequate protection in their supplier contracts.
To meet these security requirements, companies may also wish to consider technology functionality such as encryption, and ensure that they back up or replicate their data in accordance with best practices to avoid losses.
How tech can help
Technology will play a big role in efficient compliance with GDPR and POPI as large amounts of data need to be clearly identified and stored for certain periods.
Technology can help companies make sense of their data and increase efficiencies through automation. For example, it can assist in responding to requests from both data subjects and regulators in a timely manner by making the data easily searchable. Once personal data is identified technology can be used to set further controls around who accesses the personal data and for how long it needs to be retained. Service providers like Hitachi will assist with the compliance journey by identifying what personal data the company holds, where that data is located (on premises or in the cloud) and assessing whether it includes personal data or sensitive personal data – particularly as different rules apply to both.
Once the personal data is identified, Hitachi makes use of the Hitachi Content Platform to store the data. This platform makes use of object storage, which allows companies to further enrich the metadata on their files to make them more easily searchable, independent of applications.
Hitachi Content Intelligence can then be used to search for and set controls on files within the Hitachi Content Platform. For example, a company could locate all of its files which contain a credit card or identity number and then set controls on who can access those files, and alerts as to when those files need to be deleted.
It’s no secret that data is increasingly becoming the lifeblood of organisations – gaining greater insight into that data not only assists with regulatory compliance, but also with identifying and uncovering new revenue opportunities.
Becker is the Regional Counsel Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East, Pakistan, Turkey and Israel for Hitachi Data Systems

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