All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions
The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act of 2002 (ECT) affects the way a business stores its information and the way it conducts business on and through the Internet. Here's what it means for your business.
- Businesses must ensure that their customer communications, regular online advertising and notices comply with the requirements of "legal" spamming as defined in the ECA Act.
- The Act allows for the State to declare certain databases as "critical" in the interest of national security or the economic and social well-being of South Africans. Businesses that control such databases will be required to comply with specific storage and management conditions. They will also be required to register these databases and supply details of the administrator. This could affect, for example, industries such as banks, insurance companies and medical aid and healthcare providers.
- Online business must ensure that their terms and conditions are in line with the Act's requirements. According to the Act, there are 18 pieces of information that need to be supplied, as well as further requirements relating to cooling off periods, etc.
- All online businesses/web sales will have encryption software included. However, the Act requires that providers of cryptographic techniques and products must be registered with the Department of Communications in order to ply their trade in South Africa.
- Businesses with CRM solutions or who collect personal information from Internet and/or email users must comply with the requirements set out for the collection of such information. This includes giving details of the purpose for which the information will be used, among other things.
- Businesses need to educate and train their employees with regard to the implications of the Act and should update or deploy employee electronic use policies if they do not already have these in place. Such policies must take into account the requirements of the Act.
- Businesses that wish to store legally-required information or company documents in electronic form can do so, provided that they comply with the requirements for storage of electronic data. However, it may be prudent to retain the original paper-based document for litigation purposes, for example, where forensic examination of a signature is required to prove forgery.
Information from www.cliffedekker.com
Download a copy of the Act from www.gov.xa/gazette/acts/2002/a25-02.pdf.