October 15, 2021

These are the rules around annoying spam calls during South Africa’s elections

South Africa’s Data Regulator has warned the nation’s political events to comply with the provisions of the Safety of Private Data Act (POPIA) and privateness rules.

Key to the regulator’s assertion is a warning that political events might not get private knowledge – like telephone numbers – by means of knowledge brokers or functions, after which course of or use that knowledge to contact voters.

Political events want permission from voters to contact them – with just a few exceptions. Voters might at any stage object to their knowledge being processed by political events.

When processing the private data of a voter, a political social gathering should be certain that the processing complies with the circumstances for lawful processing of private knowledge as prescribed in POPIA, the regulator mentioned.

These circumstances embrace:

  • Accountability: That is the place a political social gathering should take general accountability to make sure that it processes private data lawfully.
  • Course of limitation: Which means that a political social gathering might solely course of data that it fairly wants and upon acquiring consent immediately from a voter. Subsequently, political events might not get private knowledge from knowledge brokers or by means of functions that mechanically generate private data – reminiscent of phone numbers. A voter might at any stage object to the processing of their private knowledge. If a voter objects, then a political social gathering might not course of that voter’s private data.
  • Goal specification: Which means that a political social gathering can solely course of the private data of a voter for functions immediately associated to the goal and goal of that political social gathering’s mandate.
  • Openness: Which means that a voter have to be notified {that a} political social gathering is processing their private data.

“In light of the security compromises on personal information that have riddled the country, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the political parties have a responsibility to ensure that security safeguards are put in place and that there are adequate security measures and controls to safeguard voters’ personal information against loss, damage and misuse,” the regulator mentioned.


Like many legal guidelines, there are some exceptions to the applicability of POPIA, the regulator mentioned. “Part 26 prohibits the processing of sure private data, which incorporates 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,” it mentioned.

By way of part 31, a political social gathering might course of data associated to the political persuasion of a voter for the goal of:

  • Forming a political social gathering;
  • Taking part in its actions;
  • Participating in the recruitment of members; c
  • Canvassing supporters or voters for an election or a referendum and campaigning for a political trigger.

Nevertheless, a political social gathering should nonetheless adjust to the circumstances for the lawful processing of private data when processing data associated to the political persuasion of a voter, the regulator mentioned.

The Data Regulator mentioned it had performed engagements with political events, together with participation in a Particular Provincial Get together Liaison Committee assembly to current the significance and have to adjust to POPIA and defend voters’ private data during the election interval.

“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,” mentioned chairperson of the regulator, Pansy Tlakula.

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