Skip to main content

Confidentiality - Is it a fantasy?

What is confidential information?
 What do we want to keep confidential?   The Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPI) has a few ideas around the subject.  (See below).
 The question is “Is it possible?” or has the computer/social networking age changed the rules of privacy for ever?
 Besides the high profile whistle blowers, we are exposed both personally and professionally at every turn.  
 Contractual agreements
 While companies can get staff to sign Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and tie them up contractually, it is a tough ask to get people who live their lives through social networking to accept the weight of keeping private information under wraps.
 When you are applying for a visa or a cell phone, you are required to give 3 months of bank statements.   Who looks at these?   We assume they have signed confidentiality agreements, but where are they stored?
 It is my view that there is a chain of logistics around signed paperwork that is almost impossible to protect, no matter how many processes are in place.
 Increased digitalisation has cleaned up a lot of the “lost in process” risk, but adds another dimension in terms of who can get into your data, and whether they have signed confidentiality agreements.
 Online banking now means that deposits and balances are sent to my phone, and display on my screen, even if it is in standby mode.  I guess I agreed to that one, and now have to be careful not to leave my phone visible to visitors in my office.
 Bank statements are an interesting new development, too.   Mine arrive via email with the instruction to use my ID number to access the data.
 There is a small group of people who do not have access to my ID number, I am not sure who they are, but they must be out there somewhere…..  
 Who gets to know our ID Numbers?
 Every form I fill in asks for it, certain office parks insist on storing it, along with a photocopy of my driver’s licence if I want to do business with the tenants.   My ID number is stored on Visitors’ Systems at two of our suppliers and, in both cases, I had to state it out loud in their busy Reception area, disclosing both my age and the number to anybody who wanted to take note of them.
 Data Management
 When you read what PoPI consider personal information, and the rules around storage and processing, it is clear that businesses are going to have to take a very close look at the full spectrum of data management.
 What won’t you share?
 Of course, I have thought seriously about what I consider to be information that I don’t want to share until 20 years after my death (PoPI allows sharing after that) and there are a few items that I think are mine and mine alone.  I notice that PoPI does not specifically mention weight…..
 Definition of Personal Information – PoPI
 Personal information means information relating to an identifiable natural person, including but not limited to---
  • Information relating to the race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, national, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental health, well-being, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth of the person
  • Information relating to the education or the medical, financial, criminal or employment history of the person;
  • Any identifying number, symbol, email address, physical address, telephone number, location information, online identifier or other particular assigned to the person;
  • The biometric information of the person;
  • The personal opinions, views or preferences of the person;
  • Correspondence sent by the person that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature or further correspondence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence;
  • The views or opinions of another individual about the person; and
  • The name of the person if it appears with other personal information relating to the person or if the disclosure of the name itself would reveal information about the person,
But excludes information about an individual who has been dead for more than 20 years

Please note that the above is transcribed from the Act.

Links, Notes and References

Government Gazette, 26 November, 2013 – PoPI Act – Act No 4 of 2013


Thank you for reading Teryl@Work.   Should you wish to use any of the material, please acknowledge this blog as the source.

Popular posts from this blog

Salespeople - Just Answer the Question.

How we love to elaborate…     Both in our personal and business lives.   It is rare to find somebody who simply answers the question.
In sales, it is becoming more and more critical to just say yes or no.   If you want to embroider afterwards, by all means, but tell the client you can or you can’t do it, first.

That’s what they remember, the yes or the no. Being married to an engineer, I have learnt that if I don’t answer the question, he simply repeats it, until he gets a definitive answer..
As the above is extremely bad for marital relationships, I try to say yes or no first and then give the details.

I thought it was just me, but I have been observing my friends and the people I work with, and it is fascinating how few one word answers are immediately available. When you are selling and a client asks you:
If the widget turns blue in the dark, say yes if it does, then ask if that is a key part of the decision making processIf they ask when you can deliver, give them a…

Hi, 22 year old me..

If I were 22 May is my birthday month, so a time for celebrations and introspection. In interviews, I often ask our applicants to pretend they are 60, and look back on their careers.   Their dreams range from leaving a legacy to being able to retire by the age of 45. At 22, I had taken my first steps on the career ladder.   I had been promoted from being a PA and Installation Secretary (setting up PoS installations for NCR’s large retailers) to becoming a full time programmer. I had made some extremely poor academic decisions, and realised I had to make some very good career choices.   Software development was a relatively new field when I was in my early 20s, and it became an exciting and fulfilling career. Based on my history what advice would I give myself or a new graduate? It doesn’t matter what you have studied, or what your first job is. Keep looking for your passion, find what makes you happy. If it’s money, and you don’t mind being a little unchallenged, as long as there is eno…

3 things to do BEFORE you resign

or sign a new contract…
1.Confirm your notice period ·A lot of companies allow 30 days from date of resignation, but many ask for a calendar month
2.Check your restraints ·If you are joining a competitor ·If you are joining a client
3.Find out when your last payment will be transferred ·Companies have been burned by paying over on the 25th, and people not returning, so they may delay payment transfer until the last official working day, or even the first day of the following month.  You may need to make special arrangements regarding debit orders ….
Both your current company and your new one deserve to be fairly treated.   Knowledge of the policies makes this possible.
Even if the policies don’t make sense to you, you agreed to them when you signed your contract.
HR managers will tell you how many great working relationships are damaged because people don’t follow policy when resigning. It’s worth taking the time for many good reasons.  Building a solid career can depend just as much on how you …