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    Promotion of Access to Information Act – Do you have access to all your personal information?

    Dec 6, 2021 | Articles, Other articles

    There is a lot of personal information that is processed and retained by public and private bodies. Such records are kept safe and secure for decades, but do all South Africans have access and permission to obtain those records?

    According to society’s values and general understanding, no one is authorised to just barge into a private or public entity and request files and information about their private matters. However, in the year 2000, the Department of Justice introduced the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 to allow everyone access to their personal information whenever requested. The purpose of this article is to highlight and discuss the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), who benefits from it, and how one can exercise this right lawfully.

    PAIA is used as a tool to promote a culture of transparency and accountability in both public and private entities. It was designed and promulgated to stimulate the spirit of easy access to personal information for the people of South Africa and allow them to gain effective access to information and fully protect their rights. Chapter 3 of the Act states that the main objective of the Act is to “establish voluntary and mandatory mechanisms or procedures to give effect to that right in a manner which enables persons to obtain access to records of public and private bodies as swiftly, inexpensively and effortlessly as reasonably possible” (PAIA:2000).

    To exercise one’s legal rights, there are certain actions and procedures that must be followed to exercise any right. It is, therefore, a duty of the Information Officer or Deputy Information officer in any entity to render reasonable access to personal records required. The requester will have to complete and submit a Request for access to record form and such forms can either be obtained from the office of the relevant organisation or may be downloaded from their website. Should the information not be freely available, the requester will have to pay a request fee and perhaps an access and search fee. Such fees are monitored and controlled by the Department of Justice and/or the Information Regulator to prevent any illegal and unreasonable funds claimed by entities. The current fees issued by the Department of Justice is listed below.

    Public body

    Private body

    Application form to use

    “Form A”

    “Form C”

    Request fee payable

    R35.00

    R50.00

    The remedy available (when not satisfied with the decision (including “deemed refusal”) of the Information Officer or Deputy Information Officer. Internal Appeal to the Relevant Authority (e.g., Minister, MEC, or Mayor)
    • use “Form B
    • no fee payable
    Application to Magistrates’ Court (there is no Internal Appeal)

    The relevant body must respond to the request within 30 days as prescribed and the requester will be notified of the processing of the application. It is imperative to note that the requester has no obligation to state the reason they wish to exercise or protect their right to access information.

    In conclusion, the Promotion of Access to Information Act is now practised simultaneously with the Protection of Personal Information Act 3 of 2004 (POPIA) to allow individuals and organisations to have transparent access to any personal information.

     

    How can WWISE assist your organisation in implementing PAIA?

    • WWISE has the expertise, experience, and passion to assist organisations to become PAIA compliant. Such is accomplished by structuring an implementation plan and providing systems, along with expert guidance to support organisations in achieving their goals. 
    • WWISE also assists in structuring a Promotion of Access to Information Manual which provides an outline of the type of records and the personal information the company holds.
    • WWISE illustrates how the submission of requests for access to records in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 is performed. In addition, we explain the procedure of how to access, or object to, personal information held by the Company, or request correction of the personal information. 
    • WWISE can also facilitate the entire process with regards to how the PAIA gives effect to everyone’s constitutional right to access information held by the private sector or public bodies if the record or personal information is required for the exercise or protection of any rights. 
    • WWISE can ensure clients are well informed and alert regarding the prescribed procedures and rates provided. 

     

    For more information on PAIA implementations and compliance in your business, contact WWISE on 08610 99473 or 021 525 9159 (Cape Town) or visit https://www.wwise.co.za

    You can also find your help here: https://wwise.co.za/dev-final/ict-governance/#popi

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