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POPIA Implementation and The Clash between Data Privacy and A Better Civic Experience

Last month we reported that the Information Regulator had announced that the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) would be fully implemented in April. That announcement was met by the usual flurry of opinions by lawyers, although most e-shops seem quite well prepared after all these years of preparation. I think it is worth noting that it is very unlikely that the Regulatory will apply the so-called “grandfather clause” which would allow businesses an introductory period before implementing POPIA rules on marketing in full. In other words, once the law starts it will start fully, not in gentle stages! Having the EFSA Safe.Shop Trustmark will ensure that your e-shop is compliant. See

Meanwhile, India has come up with an interesting solution to the problem faced by local governments in countries with strict data privacy laws.  To improve the efficiency of their municipal services, many Indian cities have started enabling government-service requests, which involves collecting and sharing citizen data with government officials and, potentially, the public. Cities are now beginning to question how much citizens’ data if any, they can use to track government operations.

MIT did a study which identified “model” cities that performed very well in both categories, meaning they maximized both privacy and efficiency. Cities worldwide could use similar methodologies to evaluate their own government services, the researchers say. The more cities collected and shared inessential data, the lower their privacy rating. Phone numbers and home addresses, for instance, are not needed for many of the services or grievances, yet are collected — and publicly disclosed — by many of the authorities. In fact, the researchers found that some authorities historically collected detailed personal and property information across dozens of data fields, yet the governments only needed about half of those fields to get the job done. Eight “model” municipal governments that performed in the top 25% for all services in both the efficiency and privacy indices used only the essential data — and passed that essential data through fewer officials — to complete a service in a timely manner.

This approach might be a good model in SA where far too much unnecessary data is collected by government and local authorities.

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Alastair Tempest

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