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How data protection and privacy can make or break any business in the new digital era


In a digital world where identities can be stolen, secure bank accounts raided, and personal information misused, trust has become the new currency. Trust can make or break relationships, dictate consumer opinion and influence how society operates. For organizations looking to redefine competitiveness in a digitally disrupted world, underestimating the role of trust can pose reputational risks that can be devastating.

In September 2016, the once-dominant Internet giant Yahoo announced it had been a victim of the biggest data breach in history. An estimated 500 million users had been exposed to identity theft and led to an estimated drop in the sales price of $350 million. That same year, hackers accessed personal details of 57 million Uber users and an estimated 600,000 license numbers of Uber drivers. Even with no loss of credit card details or social security numbers, this breach is believed to have cost Uber dearly in both reputation and money.

Responding to the need for better protection of personal information, the European Union (EU) has taken the lead in amending its existing data protection laws through the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that comes into effect from 25 May 2018. This new regime is intended to create a cultural change in how organisations protect people’s personal data in response to advances in technology and the proliferation of the internet, shared digital networks and social media.

Much like South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act, the GDPR ensures that organisations are accountable for personal data protection. Businesses are governed by how they can collect process and store information that could lead to accessing personal information of individuals, their addresses and location data. The GDPR puts the individual at the center of data protection, giving them the right to know how their personal data is being used, stored, protected, transferred and deleted, as well as the right to be forgotten.

“While most companies are focused on figuring out compliance measures as the deadline approaches, not many businesses fully understand the impact GDPR may have on their businesses, particularly in South Africa. Companies that fail to comply could face penalties estimated at €20 million or 4% of annual global revenue” says Alesimo Mwanga, Research Director – 22onSloane.

Last year Global Partners Digital hosted successful workshops in Kenya, Senegal and Nigeria for tech SMEs on how improving protection of privacy and other human rights can in fact lead to increased trust, more opportunities for growth, as well as stronger legal compliance. On the 9th April 2018, the team has partnered with Facebook and 22 on Sloane to host a workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“This workshop is open to all interested businesses, particularly start-ups, as well civil society organisations who have an interest in human rights. Protecting privacy and other human rights is a big responsibility; but while the risks are very real, there are also huge opportunities for businesses that get it right,” says Charles Bradley, Executive Director.

For more information about the upcoming event contact Bongiwe Melwa, PR and Events Manager – 22 on Sloane or

Phone: 011 463 7602