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January 15 2014

South Africa Adopts Comprehensive Privacy Law

"South African President Jacob Zuma has signed into law the Protection of Personal Information Bill, which protects citizens' right to privacy. The law is heavily influenced by the EU draft DP Regulation and European DP tradition. ""The Act will give effect to the right to privacy, by introducing measures to ensure that the personal information of an individual is safeguarded when it is processed by responsible parties,"" said presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj."" The Act also seeks to balance the right to privacy against other rights, particularly the right of access to information, and to generally protect important interests, including the free flow of information within and across the borders of the republic. Containing eight principles responsible parties need to comply with, the Bill gives expression to the right to privacy provided for in the Constitution. The right to privacy includes the right to protection against unlawful collection, retention, dissemination and use of anyone's personal information. The Bill also establishes the Office of the Information Regulator as an independent, statutory body, accountable to the National Assembly. The Information Regulator, amongst other duties and functions, will take over from the Human Rights Commission powers and functions relating to the Promotion of Access to Information Act. This Bill will bring South Africa in line with international data protection laws."