Not as
as you

Protection of Personal
Information Act 1 July ‘21


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With so much media hype and scare stories, it’s reassuring to come across this helpful legal guidance – in plain English – on POPIA from Elizabeth Stadler, Novation Consultants. Elizabeth is the compliance attorney who has literally written the book on the POPI Act.

Here are my personal take-aways from Elizabeth’s excellent advice with links to her 3 videos.

1. The Act is not here to destroy my email marketing

… but wants me to “act responsibly” in the collection and use of email data. It is my responsibility to keep my lists tight, clean and relevant to the needs of the receiver – no email sent just-in-case-they-may-be interested. And, it is my responsibility to instantly unsubscribe when asked – and ensure the unsubscribe sticks – the most common complaint being from people getting emails after they have repeatedly unsubscribed.

VIDEO POPIA Myth Busters (and why lawyers are so bad at POPIA)

2. it’s not necessary for me to re-consent my database

This, to me, is the most reassuring part of Elizabeth’s talk. If I have been “acting responsibly” with a sure-fire and infallible unsubscribe function, she advises “do not re-consent your entire database”. Rule of thumb – will this person be surprised to hear from me?

VIDEO The good news: POPIA compliance without trashing your database

3. Compliance doesn’t have to be a drag.

My take-away on this section is simple: don’t give people a reason to complain (see no 1 above). A complaint must be lodged formally with the Regulator with all the complications of proof and forms – an onerous task for busy people. An adjudicator will deal with the case and you have an option to re-approach the Regulator should you be unhappy with the findings. Who is going to be that mad at you to go through all that trouble? And if so, do you deserve it?

VIDEO Managing the risk of a complaint with the Regulator

LAST WORD… regarding the thorny issue of “consent”

EU digital marketers make use of the ‘legitimate interest’ argument where the impact on consumers’ privacy is measured against the relevancy of the email. POPIA, directly aligned with the GDPR, states it like this in Section 37(1)(b).

“The regulator may … grant an exemption … if … satisfied that … the processing involves a clear benefit … that outweighs, to a substantial degree, any interference with the privacy of the data subject…”

The lesson here for me: Keep my lists clean and tight and keep my marketing relevant.

Disclaimer: POPIA 1 July ‘21 The above summary is my personal take on Elizabeth’s videos. Please watch the videos and/or read her excellent book for yourself and make your own risk conclusions.

Colleen Backstrom is Director of NeuroMarketing, Kaleidoscope, a global leader in applied NeuroMarketing for Digital. Her company specialises in creating B2B email and web campaigns and optimising Zoom / Teams selling by converting existing sales pitches to NeuroMarketing. 

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