Information Privacy and Governance


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A number of high profile organisations have been subjected to great reputational damage resulting from a proliferation of personal information breaches (Protecting Personal Information, 2010). Organisations have made substantial use of their customer's personal information without doing much to protect the information. Organisation's collecting personal information have had little impetus to consider the best privacy protection solutions and people have not done anything drastic to initiate such action (Loss of privacy is price one pays to live in online world, 2011). It may take strong government regulation to propel organisations in this direction (Loss of privacy is price one pays to live in online world, 2011) leading to the pending implementation of the Protection of Personal Information Bill (POPI) (POPI: Threat or opportunity, 2010:22) in South Africa.

The POPI Bill will address the right to privacy enforcing stringent measures on all public and private entities in South Africa to ensure that the personal information of individuals is protected. The Law Commission’s findings revealed that privacy laws are lacking in South Africa, despite the fact that the right to privacy is enshrined in the Constitution (Theophanides, 2010). POPI will pave the way for the constitutional right to privacy and will regulate the manner whereby personal information is processed providing individuals with the authority to protect their personal information (Theophanides, 2010).

To prepare for POPI compliance, organisations will have to initiate an organisation-wide privacy protection programme. A very interesting market development has been the rise of a privacy GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance) market niche (Kim, 2010). The three keywords, Governance, Risk and Compliance that emanate from this current context are commensurate with GRC, one of the latest acronyms to embrace the financial world (Conte, 2007:62). This acronym GRC has infiltrated the business community over the last years (Racz et al., 2010a:106) and is an executive-level concern of many enterprises today (Krey et al., 2011:350). GRC is an integrated approach overseeing people, processes and technology in order to deliver stakeholder value while managing risk and complying with regulations and laws (Anand, 2010:57).

Many organizations get their first experience of a GRC program when they begin to implement a privacy program because privacy is an enterprise issue that spans legal, IT, compliance and business operations (Privacy and GRC: What the New Ponemon Study and the GAPP is Telling us, 2011). The POPI Bill is not exclusively an IT or legal or a process or security issue but a combination of all of these (POPI: Threat or opportunity, 2010:22).

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As such, the POPI Bill has multiple dimensions, which fall into the GRC processes. Many organizations still have to develop privacy GRC to effectively and efficiently meet the demands of the complexity of privacy, which essentially means that "privacy must run like a business" (Kominars, 2010).

According to a survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute in 2011, 76% of respondents stated that privacy is an important aspect of IT-GRC activities and 71% stated that privacy-related issues are important to the legal GRC domain (The Role of Governance, Risk Management & Compliance in Organizations: Study of GRC practitioners, 2011:2). This means that it is important to study privacy within the context of IT-GRC and Legal GRC, herewith referred to as ITL-GRC. IT-GRC is a framework that ensures IT decisions take into consideration business goals and values (Jokonya and Lubbe, 2009:116). Legal GRC includes managing controls for regulatory compliance and contractual requirements, an example of which is privacy and consumer protection management (The Role of Governance, Risk Management & Compliance in Organizations: Study of GRC practitioners, 2011:1).

This study considers the concept of an ITL-GRC framework as a meaningful approach to the Governance and Management of personal information. The reason why both Governance and Management disciplines are covered is because data management and governance disciplines have been neglected issues by most organisations, but the POPI Act is about to change this (Davies, 2011). Therefore, in preparation for the POPI Bill, both Governance and Management will be covered.

The purpose of this research is to develop a framework that will address the effective and efficient Governance and Management of Information Privacy in a holistic manner. According to the Business Dictionary (2011), a "framework is a broad overview, outline, or skeleton of interlinked items, which supports a particular approach to a specific objective, and serves as a guide that can be modified as required by adding or deleting items".

It is important to provide a distinction between the terms, framework and conceptual framework. A conceptual framework according to educational researcher Smyth (2004), is a tool to uncover research to enable a researcher to make logic of subsequent findings. He further adds that a conceptual framework is a point of departure about the research and its context. The framework is a tool to assist the researcher to develop an awareness of the particular situation under study and to communicate this (Smyth, 2004:167).

Smyth (2004:167) states that a conceptual framework can be used to provide links from the literature to research goals and questions, influence the research design and provide points for discussion of literature, methodology and analysis of data. In the context of this study, a conceptual framework will be used to obtain the research goal and research design.

A framework will be outline of ITL-GRC items interlinked to support the Governance and Management of Information Privacy and this serves as a guide for strategic and tactical management.

The objective of the framework is to inform, educate and influence top executives and management regarding the Governance and Management of Information Privacy within their respective organisations proactively. Furthermore, it provides a set of metrics to communicate the status of Information Privacy to improve the Information Privacy posture of the organisation.

The approach and application of each component of ITL-GRC provide a unique contribution to Information Privacy Governance and Management. When the components of ITL-GRC are applied together in a well-designed, planned and coordinated manner, it provides a distinctive solution to the proactive planning of Information Privacy Governance and Management planning.



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