The end of spam robocalls — unless you give permission

The Protection of Personal Information Act, often called the POPI Act or POPIA, will prohibit companies from using automated machines to call people without their consent.

This is feedback from Ahmore Burger-Smidt from Werksmans Attorneys, who commented on the impact of the POPIA on spam calls.

Section 69 of the POPIA, which related to direct marketing by means of unsolicited electronic communications, states:

The processing of personal information of a data subject for the purpose of direct marketing by means of any form of electronic communication, including automatic calling machines, facsimile machines, SMSs, or email is prohibited unless the data subject—

  1. has given his, her or its consent to the processing; or
  2. is, subject to subsection (3), a customer of the responsible party.

Speaking to ENCA, Burger-Smidt said the definition in the POPIA refers to electronic communications and not telemarketing. Instead, it relates to SMS marketing, automated calling machines, and email.

She said robocalls, where you receive an unsolicited call from an automated machine, will not “just happen in future”.

“The legislation specifically says a company can use unsolicited direct marketing if it has the consent of the people it contacts,” she said.

That means people on the database must agree to receive direct marketing from the company before they can be contacted.

Alternatively, a person must be a customer of the company which engages in direct marketing. In this case, people must always have the option to opt out.


Ahmore Burger-Smidt interview


Now read: POPIA deadline looms — but government registration site down

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The end of spam robocalls — unless you give permission