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Time to rethink e-waste strategy

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Not only is the introduction of mandatory protection of personal data a huge challenge for companies, but now organisations are being prompted to rethink how they approach the reuse, recycling or recovery of their e-waste. Xperien suggests the new Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act will have serious consequences in the near future.
The successful adoption of this Act will depend on a comprehensive understanding of the digital aspect of the new laws. Companies will be forced to change their processes to ensure that the personal information and data they collect is protected.
The PoPI Act is awaiting an implementation date, it will hold organisations liable for the safety of their information. Companies could face massive fines, civil claims and reputational damage claims if they fail to upgrade information technology security systems ahead of the implementation of the Act.
Xperien CEO Wale Arewa says the PoPI Act will force companies to change their attitude towards IT security. “When we partnered with IACT-Africa, we soon realised that instead of it being a burden, as it is seen by most organisations, the PoPI Act actually presented us with opportunities.”
“That’s our experience as well. Over the past eighteen months our clients have repeatedly seen compliance with the PoPI Act as a support and not a hindrance to business growth,” comments John Cato, founder and CEO of IACT-Africa.
“This has happened by recognising how the PoPI Act philosophy of respecting data privacy in South Africa, in much the same way as in other parts of the world, is opening the door to develop new products and services,” adds Cato.
“These range from advanced document and device shredding capabilities, which more effectively destroy paper and electronic documents, to new online education offerings focused on PoPI Act compliance, to providing competitive advantage in demonstrating market leadership compared to one’s competitors in the areas of good governance and legislative compliance.”
Xperien and IACT-Africa both recognise that many organisations have until now not thought seriously about the disposal of digital devices which could contain personal information as defined in the PoPI Act.
“Something as innocent as the office copier, fax or printer has a potential to blow a hole in your compliance efforts unless properly managed,” says Dr Peter Tobin, IACT-Africa consultant and CEO of PTC, IACT-Africa’s strategic partner in the field of PoPI Act compliance.
“When talking to our clients about compliance with the PoPI Act, we take a holistic view. This includes looking at the lifecycle of all their digital devices and the risks those items represent in terms of non-compliance if not handled correctly,” he adds.
“As a result, we have partnered with Xperien for full PoPI Act compliance in the area of e-waste disposal and recycling,” says Cato.
Arewa welcomes the approach from IACT-Africa. “Their focus on PoPI Act compliance is highly synergistic with the services we already offer to our clients.”
“Our ability to reduce the risks associated with uncontrolled asset and device disposal or deployment can provide a huge step towards PoPI Act compliance as part of the overall compliance strategy recommended by IACT-Africa,” he concludes.
Organisations that ignore the changes that PoPI will introduce could face financial and reputational losses. The loss of confidence that they face from their suppliers and customers could seriously jeopardise their business.