By Lauren Fenthum
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In the Digital era, we live in a time where technology allows consumers to be contacted at any time, be it through emails, SMS marketing or even through social media. There is no doubt; we have all been victim to an unsolicited email or phone call offering us money saving products and services. POPI was introduced as a constitutional right to privacy, in which personal information is safeguarded, and is aimed at balancing privacy rights, whilst not limiting access to information.
For consumers, POPI is great news. This means that there are specific controls and measures taken to ensure that marketers and companies cannot use your personal information in an effort to sell you unwanted products or services. Luckily for marketers, POPI does not prohibit direct marketing. As a marketer, this means your efforts are going to have to be a lot more focused and deliberate. This could, however, work in your favour, as your marketing pool will be reduced, filtering out all irrelevant contacts, thus POPI can help your business build a more customer-focused database. Direct marketers should be able to accommodate individuals’ requests to know which third parties have access to their information. POPI ensures that the consumer has to be given the choice to consenting to allow their personal information to be used.
SMS marketing is still possible, until the option to opt out of receiving these SMS’s become possible, however, this is still considered as a form of unsolicited direct marketing. The practices of retrieving information from third party data-sources are another complicated area for direct marketers. Marketers need to gain the consent of the regulator, but the third party also needs to receive consent from clients who have provided the information before they are able to proceed.
Whilst the act, is overdue and should have been pushed forward as soon as technology took hold of our lives, it is still a challenge to implement. It will also be difficult for consumers to prove the indication to opt-out of direct marketing schemes. Privacy is a fundamental human right, it is very important that businesses align their marketing strategies accordingly, and that customers do to feel bombarded with unnecessary information that costs your company money for no tangible result. Direct marketers can use the following guidelines from the POPI Bill to check your compliance:
- Conduct an audit of processes used to collect and record personal information.
- What interventions are already in place that prevents personal information from lost or unlawfully damaged.
- Ensure the process of gathering information is defined.
- Ensure that steps have been taken to notify the individual that their information is being used and what the information will be used for.