Information Regulator urges parties to process voter personal information
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Cape Town - The information regulator has urged political parties to ensure lawful processing of personal information as prescribed in the Protection of Personal Information Act (Popia) while campaigning for the local government elections.
The regulator’s chairperson Pansy Tlakula said on Thursday political parties and independent candidates were responsible parties and should comply with the provisions of Popia.
“To ensure that we protect the constitutional rights of the citizens of South Africa all political parties and candidates must uphold the law and comply with the requirements in Popia.
“The regulator continues to provide guidance and educate responsible parties in applying this law and protecting the rights of citizens,” Tlakula said.
She also said political party should ensure that the processing complied with the eight conditions for lawful processing of personal information as prescribed in legislation.
This included, among others, not obtaining personal information from data brokers or through applications that automatically generate personal information such as telephone numbers.
“A voter may at any stage object to the processing of his or her personal information. If a voter objects, then a political party may no longer process that voter’s personal information,” she said.
Tlakula also said a political party could only process the personal information of a voter for purposes directly related to the objective and purpose of that political party’s mandate.
“A voter must be notified that a political party is processing his or her personal information.”
Tlakula said in light of the security compromises on personal information experienced in the country, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) and the political parties have a responsibility to ensure that security safeguards were put in place.
There should be adequate security measures and controls to safeguard voters' personal information against loss, damage and misuse, she said.
Tlakula noted that there were some exceptions to the applicability of Popia such as Section 26 that prohibited the processing of special personal information, which includes the political persuasion of voters.
“However, political parties may process information concerning the political persuasion of voters in accordance with section 31 of Popia, if that information relates to members, employees or other persons belonging to the political party, and where such processing is necessary to achieve the aims and principles of the political party.”
Tlakula said a section 31 of Popia provided for a political party to process information related to the political persuasion of a voter for the purpose of forming a political party, participating in its activities, engaging in the recruitment of members, canvassing supporters or voters for an election or a referendum and campaigning for a political cause.
“However, a political party must still comply with the conditions for the lawful processing of personal information when processing information related to the political persuasion of a voter,” she said.