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.
 Digitalisation
 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

Note

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

Resignation - keep building relationships

Resignation – avoid burning those bridges It has been a great pleasure working with a colleague like you. Now, you are off to your next big challenge! Good luck and farewell!
Isn’t that what we all want to hear when we leave?  We were appreciated and we will be missed.
The need for all parties to maintain professional conduct in the event of resignation is critical, particularly now when we are working within an unsettled socio-economic climate. Employees should avoid damaging relationships, and employers need to adopt a neutral approach and ensure that there are policies and processes that enable the separation to be objectively handled.  For example: ·A formal resignation letter is required·A formal acceptance of resignation is issued confirming any special conditions·An exit interview takes place·Handovers are planned and executed
Our HR team advise those who resign their position to adhere to a few golden rules. Failure to do so could harm whatever bonds have been formed at the workpla…

It's Not Your Fault, But..

It’s Not Your Fault, But…
Its’s not mine, either. When something goes wrong, whether at work or home, most people immediately start casting around for somebody to blame. Over the weekend, I was reading and drinking a cup of coffee which was perched on the arm of the couch.  I do this daily, and have never spilled it.   My daughter came into the room, I put my reader down next to me and we started chatting.  A little later, I picked the reader up, turned to my coffee, and knocked it over.  Something in my expression caused her to ask whether it was her fault.  Of course, it wasn’t, but a mean, small part of me was thinking, well, no, but if you hadn’t come in the room…  And she was kind enough to help me clear it up!
If that lamp post wasn’t there If that faster person wasn’t in the race If the traffic light hadn’t turned red at just that moment If we hadn’t hired Joe, I would have got the promotion If, if, if….. We are very quick to accept the “if” when it is about us, and much slower to do so…

It's Not My Job

It’s Not My Job
Assuming that there are reasons for saying this: 1.It’s not your job and is totally is outside of your skill set 2.It’s not in your KPIs and you don’t want to do it 3.You believe you are being exploited and want to draw a line as to what you will and won’t do. Outside your skill set This is reasonable and there could be many scenarios where this is appropriate
·Where there is a safety or special licence requirement to do the job eg driving a forklift truck
·Where there is a formal qualification like giving legal advice
·Where additional qualifications are required as in a medical doctor without surgical qualifications or experience


Not in my KPIs This response could be perceived as a lot more negative, not to mention career limiting. If there is a good reason why you can’t step outside your pure job description, share that immediately.  ·“I would love to be able to help, however, I need to complete this project by 5 pm today and I am out of the office all day tomorrow at our larg…