The Information Regulator has established online portals for public and private bodies to use to submit their Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 (PAIA) section 32 reports and to register their Information Officers (IO’s).
In a statement released on Friday, the regulator said the online portals intend to improve efficiency, as they will be user-friendly and afford quick turnaround time for submission of section 32 reports and registration of Information Officers.
“Manual applications will continue to be administered to accommodate special circumstances. However, we strongly encourage all public and private bodies to use the portals because it is cost-effective and saves time.
“The Regulator exercises its powers and performs its functions in accordance with POPIA (Protection of Personal Information) and PAIA. Its mandate is to enforce and monitor compliance by public and private bodies with the two pieces of legislation, so as to ensure the protection of information and effective access to information for all persons,” it said.
PAIA section 32 report
PAIA gives effect to section 32 of the Constitution, which provides that everyone has the right of access to any information that is held by the State; as well as any information that is held by another person that is required for the protection of any rights.
Section 32 of PAIA applies to public bodies, which are any departments of state or administration in the national, provincial, and local municipalities or any other public institution exercising power in terms of the Constitution.
Public bodies also include any other institution exercising public power or performing a public function in terms of any legislation.
The IO’s are obligated to submit section 32 reports to the regulator annually.
IO’s are by default the head of departments, administrations, and municipalities, such as Director- Generals, Heads of Departments, and Municipal Managers or heads of any public bodies.
“The purpose of the report is to give an account of the number of requests for access received; access granted in full; access granted in terms of section 46 (mandatory disclosure in the public interest); access refused fully or partially; cases extended; internal appeals to relevant authority; and the number of internal appeals that were refused on the ground that an internal appeal was regarded as having been dismissed,” the Regulator explained.
The annual reports currently due for submission are for the financial period 2021/2022. Public bodies must submit their annual reports by 09 September 2022.
Registration of Information Officers
POPIA was enacted to promote the protection of personal information processed by public and private bodies and introduces minimum conditions for the lawful processing of personal information, and an obligation on Information Officers of public and private bodies to designate and delegate any power or duty to Deputy Information Officers (DIO’s).
“The registration portal is for public and private bodies to register their IO’s with the Regulator before an IO assumes their duties. The IO is responsible to ensure that the body complies with the eight Conditions for Lawful Processing of Personal Information,” the Regulator said.
The Regulator had previously introduced a manual process for registration, which was used whilst it was reconfiguring the online system that had technical glitches in 2021.
“Public and private bodies who had registered using the manual registration and received their certificates are advised not to re-register. The portal has been upgraded and will have the functions to register IO’s, allow for amending, and updating details of the respective bodies.
“Public and private bodies should comply with these requirements and use the portals made available. It is to be noted that non-compliance with these statutory requirements is a contravention of the law.”