Compliance FrameworkThe purpose of a compliance framework for the protection of personal information is to effectively and efficiently manage the compliance risks. It will ensure the appropriateness and consistency of approach between external compliance requirements and internal policies, procedures, regulations. It is used to establish a structured approach to continuously improve the many technical and complex requirements of the Protection of Personal Information Act.  

A POPIA compliance framework institutionalises the enablers of protection for personal information and provides a monitoring capability to manage compliance with the obligations of the Protection of Personal Information Act ensure compliance with the conditions for the lawful processing of personal information.

The Information Regulator has extended the duties and responsibilities to ensure a suitable compliance framework is implemented. Responsible parties will have to demonstrate compliance to a wide range of legal obligations that include:

  • keeping documentation that can be used later to demonstrate accountability
  • clarifying the roles, responsibilities and accountability obligations of responsible parties using risk-based approaches to data protection and the implementation of protective measures which correspond to the level of risk of processing personal data so that the fundamental rights and freedoms of data subjects are protected
  • supporting information officers and their efforts to achieve strong data protection compliance and establish effective privacy programmes
  • providing effective governance of processors and third parties operating under the authority of the responsible party
  • pro-actively identifying and tracking procedural or training weaknesses in an effort to preclude regulatory violations.


A Compliance Framework for POPIA

compliance frameworkHigh-level governance dashboards enable the monitoring of accountability, highlight management activity and report the status of operational tasks and effectiveness of controls.

Responsible parties can demonstrate the implementation of comprehensive data protection and information management programmes and focus on various elements including policies, technical and organisational measures, and specific operational practices. Management reports show the status of implementation, progress towards achieving the desired outcomes and effectiveness of implemented safeguards.

With limited time and resources, the POPI governance management system assists controllers plan and implement the required data protection measures, coordinate and record the actions taken, monitor specific technical and organisational arrangements, respond to information requests and handle complaints quickly.

Proper planning is essential as the legal obligations are significant. Documentation is core to compliance and extensive information is required about the purpose of processing personal data, the participants (internal and external) in processing, the methods and processes using personal data, the specific data records being processed, precautions being taken and safeguards that have been implemented to protect the personal data being processed.

The POPI governance and management system provides a single, holistic and integrated approach to POPI compliance.

Key features of the POPI governance and management system

  • A scalable, multi-tiered approach integrating governance, management and operational actions
  • A holistic approach to data protection and continuous improvement in the measures taken
  • Comprehensive data protection and information management programmes
  • Institutionalised commitment to protecting fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, corporate policies, legal and contractual obligations, codes of conduct, standards and operational specifications
  • Legal register and multiple frameworks of good practice for data protection linked to operational responsibilities (ISO 27001, NIST cyber security)
  • Implement accountability and clarify responsibility
  • Documented information for data controllers to demonstrate their accountability
  • Enable data protection officers to fulfil their obligations
  • Track the application of the principles of data protection by design and data protection by default
  • Monitor the status of data portability, intervenability, unlinkability, transparency and data destruction
  • Maintain knowledge bases of relevant good practices and information to support effective data protection
  • Support vulnerability impact assessments (for a risk-based approach to data protection)
  • Direct the implementation of appropriate technical and organisational measures in accordance with recognised frameworks for data protection, cyber security, cloud computing at the operational level
  • Validate vendor compliance with legal and contractual obligations
  • Measure progress across all areas of business activity
  • Prepare for certification - ISO 27001, ISO 27017, ISO 27018, ISO 27032, ISO 30301, ISO 29190, etc.
  • Centralise compliance document management
  • Facilitate assessments of levels of risk and compliance
  • Handle information request and respond to complaints quickly
  • Support audits of operational practices, internal controls, technical safeguards and compliance responsibilities.
  • Provide secure, granular access control and privilege management.


  • A comprehensive privacy and information management programme to institutionalise the enablers of data protection
  • A roadmap to continuous improve capability to protect fundamental rights and freedoms of data subjects
  • Demonstrable levels of data protection compliance.