Data protection: SA companies need to take a global stance

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how-to-comply-with-the-data-protection-act-457501399With the implementation of the EU’s data protection laws just around the corner, local entities need to study up on how it could affect them.

D-day for implementation of the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is just three months away – and South African organisations are by no means off the hook.

If you are a South African entity that handles individuals’ personal data, you will be acutely aware of our country’s data protection law – the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act – but have you considered how the looming GDPR affects the way you manage clients’ personal information?

The fact of the matter is, if you are a locally-based business that offers goods or services to EU customers, you also deal with personal information or data relating to EU citizens’ – and you are just as responsible for complying with the GDPR as any EU business.

Leon van der Merwe, head of digital at customer communication firm PBSA, points out that any entity controlling or processing data relating to EU citizens is affected by the GDPR. “Controlling refers to any organisation that states why and how data is processed, while a processor is any party doing the actual processing of the data, whether based in the EU, or not.”

GDPR vs POPI

Van der Merwe says it is crucially important for local companies with dealings abroad to do their homework and familiarise themselves with the GDPR’s ground rules. “Companies could be fined heavily under GDPR regulations if they fail to provide evidentiary and auditable processes, as well as adequate IT security, to protect personal data.”

The GDPR is a regulation borne out of the European Parliament, Council of the European Union and European Commission’s joint intent to strengthen and unify data protection EU citizens.

Non-compliance with the GDPR comes with a hefty fine of up to €20 million (about R290 million) – or 4% of annual sales.

Similar to SA’s POPI Act, the GDPR is all about data protection. Data includes things like a person’s name, email address and phone number, as well as information collected by website cookies like internet browsing habits.

Breaching rules laid out in the POPI Act comes with a R10 million fine and/or a jail sentence.

Van der Merwe summarises the parallels between the two data-protection directives: “POPI and GDPR are similar, in that they both aim to strengthen the protection of personal information. They differ in their approach, in that the GDPR takes a wider, more global perspective that includes anyone, anywhere either controlling or processing – or both – data relating to EU citizens.”

Auditable business processes

A big part of compliance, when it comes to both the POPI Act and the GDPR, specifically involves audit trails – something PBSA’s digital signature and workflow product, SignFlow, is heavily centred on.

For evidentiary purposes and in order for any company to assert GDPR compliance, the automated management of an audit trail is imperative.

Van der Merwe says SignFlow is can assist customers in their strategy to automate and digitise processes in a responsible and compliant manner. “Business Process Automation is at the forefront of our technology development at SignFlow, including tools like DocFlow, CaseFlow and our digital customer on-boarding tools.”

At the core of SignFlow, he says, is Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). “PKI manages users’ private keys, and signs and secures documents using Public Key Cryptography. Not only does this make documents tamper-evident after they’ve been signed, but the entire operation is conducted in a secure network over encrypted secure socket layers between the public, personal devices and private servers.”

Unlike paper files and systems managing email attachments, this portal fully controls and audits the workflow and communication channels between interacting parties. “This greatly reduces the risk of data leaks,” says van der Merwe.

“The system enhances non-repudiation, creating a digital trail of undeniable events that prove intent and identity.”

With GDPR set to come into effect on 25 May 2018, and the high stakes attached to non-compliance, South African companies simply cannot afford not to take a global view on data protection. “The protection of personal information goes far beyond just the POPI Act for local companies dealing with international customers,” says van der Merwe.

 

[REFERENCES]

  1. Digiday – For the GDPR-curious: WTF is the Article 29 Working Party?
  2. The Digiday Guide to GDPR (PDF)
  3. The Sun – What is GDPR, what does it stand for, when is the deadline in 2018 and how can you check if a business is compliant?
  4. Michalsons – What does the GDPR mean for the POPI Act?
    POPI commencement date or POPI effective date starts the clock
  5. Wikipedia – General Data Protection Regulation
  6. IOL – Protection of Personal Information Act soon to become a reality
  7. ITWeb – Unpacking the POPI Act: The ins and outs of protecting personal information

Breaking the Crèche Syndrome cycle

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Parents

The phenomenon whereby crèche-going children are repeatedly plagued by viruses can be beaten with a simple & affordable solution: an air purifier.

 For parents of young children, the term “Crèche Syndrome” will most likely be both very familiar and utterly dreaded. Familiar, because the phenomenon – which involves crèche-attending children coming down with repeated episodes of illness – is both very real and very common; and dreaded, because it is something both hugely disruptive and largely out of parents’ hands.

According to Cape Town-based paediatrician Dr Willem Smit, Crèche Syndrome is not a condition that features in medical literature, yet it is “probably the most common chronic condition seen by paediatricians in private practice”.

Dr Smit explains, “Crèche Syndrome is a condition of recurring wet cough and excessive upper respiratory snottiness and secretions in a [day care or crèche] setting in the age group of 0-3 years.”

He says crèche-attending children can get as many as 10 -20 upper airway infections per year, mainly common colds caused by viruses. “During each episode they could have 10-20 days of a runny nose and a cough as well as fever for the first three days (72hours).”

This is not taking into account the often serious secondary infections and complications that can occur from viral infections, Smit points out.

Multiple days away from work to look after a sick child is something no working parent can afford, nor is the trauma of seeing little ones in distress something any parent ever wants to have to endure.

Tried and tested – research confirms results

The good news is that, by taking one simple step, crèches and day care centres can protect the children they are trusted custodians over, and break the ongoing cycle of viruses and infections that afflict them – especially at this time of year. That step is investing in an air purifier.

Studies have shown that using an air purifier in a crèche or day care environment is an effective means of removing and preventing the airborne germs and pollutants that cause children’s ongoing health issues.

According to Healthy But Smart, a social enterprise dedicated to helping people make evidence-based decisions regarding their health, there is a good amount of research that has been done on the effectiveness of air purifiers.

“Recent studies…showed that air purifiers are efficient not only as a protection to the more obvious allergies, but also to cardio vascular health and other hazards.”

The organisation adds that, aside from general health benefits, studies show improvement in asthma management and the health of allergy sufferers when a good quality air purifier – such as those that utilise high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters – is used.

All of PBSA’s air purifiers work by way of HEPA filters that clean and purify the air that is circulated and inhaled indoors. HEPA filters physically trap the tiny germs and particles that are merely recirculated into the air – and exacerbated – by cleaning agents.

In a nutshell, an air purifier’s job is three-fold: kill germs, filter particles and remove volatile organic compounds (hazardous air pollutants that can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, and even damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system).

When it is children’s health that is at stake, cleaning the air they breathe with a proven solution – air purification – should be at the top of schools’ priority lists.

For information on pbOffice’s (a PBSA division) range of air purification systems, visit our Air Purifiers web page, or call 010 300 4893.

 

REFERENCES

  1. Dr Willem Smit – https://www.facebook.com/drwillemsmit/posts/1061171520655407
  2. Wikipedia: Volatile Organic Compounds – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volatile_organic_compound
  3. Healthy But Smart: Are Air Purifiers Helpful? The Research Reviewed – https://healthybutsmart.com/air-purifiers/

Why is it important to credit check prospective customers?

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credit-check-signThe importance of knowing the credit worthiness of new customers cannot be emphasised enough.

It is undeniably important for any business to have customers – whether it be individual consumers, other businesses or suppliers – but it is even more important that the customers you do business with are reliable when it comes to paying you for the services or products you tender.

And, while it may seem counterproductive – even absurd – to turn business away, the value of having quality, paying customers who settle their bills on time, cannot be compared to the value (or lack thereof) of having customers who become a burden because they are constantly defaulting on payments.

The bottom line is, you should never be afraid to turn non-creditworthy customers away because, at the end of the day, it is your company’s bottom line that is on the chopping block.

No business – no matter how big or small – can afford to jeopardise profits. In fact, bad debt and cash flow issues have been positioned as the two main reasons start-ups and small businesses fold.

You also need to be aware that, legally, if you either fail to carry out a credit check or you decide to give a non-creditworthy candidate the green light, you have no recourse down the line should they default on payment and, inevitably, your best option would be to write the debt off.

So, without question, it pays to do your homework. In fact, the advantages of carrying out thorough credit checks go beyond just protecting your profits. The process also allows for intensified sales efforts overall, as these can be confidently spent on the right kind of client, the kind that will add to your income – and not take away from it.

pbVerify offers a range of B2B and B2C Credit Risk Management tools for any size business in South Africa that grants credit. For more information visit our products page HERE

pbVerify intros new verification product

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pbVerify Consumer Marriage Status reportSA’s leading data bureau has added the Consumer Marital Status Report to its suite of credit vetting products.

In the name of protecting your organisation and potentially saving it huge amounts of money, it is imperative that you, as a credit-granting facility, carry out thorough credit checks on new customers.

That is why – as part of our ongoing quest to place all the tools our customers need to manage their credit risk at their fingertips – pbVerify has introduced a new credentials verification product – the Consumer Marital Status Report*.

This latest addition, which forms part of pbVerify’s comprehensive Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B) credit check suite, allows pbVerify users to quickly and accurately verify the names and identity number of any consumer’s spouse.

While the Consumer Marital Status Report comes primarily in response to our clients’ need to authenticate the marital status of an applicant requesting a financial service, it is also a very useful tool for tracing agents, who may need to access spouse details of customers in default.

All the user needs to access the marital details of the applicant in question, is the applicant’s name, surname and 13-digit South African identity number. These details are then checked against Home Affairs data, after which the system returns the marital details, including the applicant’s spouse’s (if any) first name, surname and identity number.

*The Consumer Marital Status Report costs R7.50 – or 75 pbVerify credits – and is available after registration to any business that grants credit to other businesses or consumers.

For more information on pbVerify’s suite of B2B and B2C credit risk management products click HERE.