This article serves to clarify the legality of adding members to a “WhatsApp” (or any other form of social media) group without their consent. We have also included a disclaimer which can be included in any WhatsApp group invitation sent to potential group members.
Section 11(1)(a) of the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 states:
“Personal Information may only be processed if the data subject, or competent person where the data subject is a child, consents to the processing.”
In order to interpret the above provision, we need to define three key points or phrases. These phrases are defined in Section 1 of Act 4 of 2013.
1. The data subject is “the person to whom the personal information relates”.
2. Personal information is “information relating to an identifiable, living, natural person and where applicable, an identifiable, existing juristic person, including but not limited to,
any identifying number, symbol, email address, physical address, telephone number, location information, online identifier or other particular assignments to the person; ande name of the person if it appears with other personal information relating to the person or the disclosure of the name itself would reveal information about the person.”