From the editor's desk: Privacy is your responsibility

Issue 3 2021 News

We have a look at the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA) in this issue, which is set to become a reality as of 1 July. We didn’t have space for much information, but more on the topic will be on our website and in our news briefs this month. Of course, it still remains to be seen whether the Information Regulator will make a difference to the privacy posture of the average citizen.

However, when it comes to your individual privacy, you are still really on your own. PoPIA can make things hot for companies that don’t bother to apply the basic security protocols in protecting your personal information from leaks and breaches, and make companies think twice about collecting private information they don’t need – although South African companies are not inclined to care about legalities (I’m generalising) until they see their peers in trouble.


Andrew Seldon.

However, our personal privacy is still at risk. Companies bombard you with endless legal jargon that most of us don’t read, and even if we do we don’t understand it, in the form of ‘terms and conditions’, which are more flexible and changeable than the ANC’s ethical boundaries – I’m primarily focusing on Internet companies and online applications (and that swamp thing called social media). They also get clever and refer you to their website for the T&C; knowing nobody is going to stop what they are doing and go and read them. By agreeing to them, you basically give the company carte blanche as to what it does with your information.

These companies are not inclined to support any privacy initiatives. Some big companies launched a campaign against people using the latest Apple mobile operating system because it forces people to opt into privacy invasion. To ‘persuade’ people to accept their spying terms, they use concepts like “keeping the application free”. Most people won’t even read the notice because they are in a hurry to see what their friends are having for lunch.

If you are concerned about the information about you that is out there, and we are in an age where almost everything is out there, you need to take responsibility for your own privacy – even if it means eating your lunch without a photoshoot. Hi-Tech Security Solutions will be looking at a few privacy principles going forward, from an individual as well as a corporate point of view, but we can all start by building our own barrier and keeping personal data and your lunch snapshots separate; as in completely separate and unable to interfere with each other or exchange information. It’s not easy and it can take time, but it’s worth it.

There are plenty of resources online to assist. Perhaps starting at https://ssd.eff.org could help, while https://privacybadger.org/ is a simple but useful extension for your web browsers (and Vivaldi – https://vivaldi.com/ – is a privacy-enabling browser not affiliated to any mega-corporations).


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