Advice and Opinion

Protection of Personal Information Act will impact on real estate agencies

The recent gazetting of the Protection of Personal Information Act – which is still to be promulgated – has far reaching implications for the business sector in South Africa.

Passed on 26 November 2013, the Act provides for the constitutional right to privacy while protecting the free-flow of information and advancing the right of access to information. It also regulates the manner in which personal information is processed in line with international standards.

In ensuring the protection of personal information, the Act contains eight key conditions that must be complied with when processing information, namely:

Processing limitation
Purpose specification
Further processing limitation
Information quality
Security safeguards, and
Data subject participation.

The property sector, which is involved not only in the marketing of real estate but also the complex process which is followed in the conclusion of property transactions, is also naturally required to comply with the Act.

Comments Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group: “We are currently in the process of identifying all aspects of the Act, and understanding the new laws and how they impact on our business and every aspect of our systems.

“In order to ensure that we put effective measures in place and implement policies throughout the group to comply with the Act, we are already engaging with all the relevant departments and operating entities in the group, with a view to devising and introducing policy documents pertaining to the application of the new Act. These include aspects such as the processing and handling of personal client information, marketing, sales and operations, information technology, finance, human resources, legal, rentals and social networking.

“Among the numerous steps being undertaken is a process designed to culminate in the adoption of a comprehensive personal information policy within the PGP group, which, being a large organisation with an existing extensive central database of client information, will assist us facilitate the required controls both timeously and effectively. In addition, all third party agreements and existing policies will also be reviewed as necessary and adapted to comply with the Act and PGP policy,” says Dr Golding.

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