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Companies warned not to hide behind POPIA when dealing with journalists


Recently a few companies, including debt counselling firm Dotsure and SA Home Loans, have refused to respond to media queries on behalf of clients, citing the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) as an excuse.

However, the work of journalists is specifically excluded from the Act, such as when consumer journalists make enquiries on behalf of a member of the public.

Information Regulator spokesperson Nomzamo Zondi confirmed to the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) that “Section 7 of POPIA clearly stipulates that the Act does not apply to the processing of personal information for journalistic purposes. Therefore, in this instance, where the companies refuse to respond to media inquiries based on POPIA – it’s incorrect. Furthermore, the journalist in this instance has received consent from the data subject to process their personal information, making the case of the journalist more solid.”

The chair of SANEF’s Access to Information and Media Policy committee, Izak Minnaar adds:

“This guidance from the Information Regulator means that as long as journalists follow the clauses on privacy and personal data in the Press Code of Ethics for Print and Online Media, they are acting within the prescripts of POPIA.

In the light of the response from the Information Regulator, journalists are encouraged to report companies to the IR if they do not want to respond to reasonable requests made on behalf of consumers.”

Note to Editors:

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is a non-profit organisation whose members are editors, senior journalists, and journalism trainers from all areas of the South African media. We are committed to championing South Africa’s hard-won freedom of expression and promoting quality, ethics, and diversity in the South African media. We promote excellence in journalism through fighting for media freedom, writing policy submissions, research and education and training programmes. SANEF is not a union.

For more information please contact:

Izak Minnaar – SANEF Chairperson for Access to Information & Media Policy (082) 412 8862

Sbu Ngalwa – SANEF Chairperson (073) 404-1415

Nwabisa Makunga – SANEF Deputy Chairperson (082) 555-1972

Tshamano Makhadi – Treasurer-General (082) 223 0621

Makhudu Sefara – SANEF Media Freedom Chair (079) 177-2134

Asanda Ngoasheng – Western Cape Convenor – 082 610-9374

Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor (082) 571-3334

Dr. Glenda Daniels – SANEF Gauteng Convenor (083) 229-9708

Chiara Carter – Acting SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (082) 659-9162

Reggy Moalusi – SANEF Executive Director (071) 682-3695

Twitter: @SAEditorsForum

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.sanef.org.za

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