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POPIA Compliance tip #2: Some of the key definitions in POPIA

Authors: Natasha Jansen – Consultant

The definitions of personal information, processing, and record are key to POPIA. POPIA applies to all processing of personal information stored or captured in a record.

The definition of personal information in POPIA is set out in broad terms with a long list of examples of what would constitute personal information. Effectively, personal information includes all information that identifies or is about a person and would also include a data subject’s personal opinions, views or preferences, correspondence that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature, and the views or opinions of another individual about the data subject.

The definition of processing is equally as broad and covers everything that is done with that personal information throughout the entire data processing life-cycle, from the moment it is collected until the moment it is destroyed. The definition also covers both hard copy and electronic records of personal information. Under POPIA, processing activities will include collecting, receiving, recording, organising, collating, storing, updating, modifying, retrieving, distributing, restricting, erasing, or destroying personal information.

In order for POPIA to apply, the personal information must be entered into a record (i.e. recording personal information on any medium or in any form). The definition of record includes writing on any material, any information produced, stored or recorded by means of any tape recorder, computer equipment (hardware, software or both) or other device, any label, marking or other writing that identifies or describes anything that it forms part of or is attached to, a book, map, plan, graph or drawing, and a photograph, film, negative, tape or other device in which one or more visual images are embodied.

Contact our Data Privacy & POPIA team for assistance with creating a data inventory and performing a compliance gap assessment.

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