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POPI Focus: GenX/Y or Population C



By now, you’ve probably heard the “Generation Terminology” bandied about. If you have, and still not quite sure what it means, let’s bring you up to speed:

Baby Boomers: Born post-WWII, roughly between 1946 and 1964. They have been around for more than 60 years – some are settling into retirement. Self-assured, resourceful and most are financially stable. They embrace technology and have the means to access scientific advancements. As some Baby Boomers are working past their retirement age, they are just as tech-savvy as other generations. They do online shopping, internet banking, and are active on social media platforms such as Facebook.

Generation X: Born between the 1960 ’s and 1980’s – after the Baby Boomers. A generation that witnessed some major political global changes which shaped them: the fall of the Berlin Wall, the start of a democratic South Africa. They are generally well educated. Gen-x’ers are independent thinkers – and were the first of the latch-key kids given the escalating divorce rate since the late 1970’s. Given this sense of self-reliance, they value technology and applications that allow them to “DIY” – self-service check-in, logging complaints on social media platforms such as HelloPeter and managing emails on the go.

Generation Y: Born around the 1980’ s to 2000. Often referred to as the “millennials”. They have a strong belief in work-life balance – possibly from seeing Baby Boomer parents work long hours to establish careers. Millennials have been known to crave attention, seek affirmation, guidance and constant feedback. Millennials are generally active on Social Media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

The Protection of Personal Information Act focuses on the collection, collation, processing and storing of information collected on data subjects including that of any of the three groups mentioned above. We have explored briefly how each of these groups are active within the cyber and tech space. Anonymity is key in order to protect their information such as credit card details, political beliefs or identifiable data such as date of birth, gender and names. Which sees the emergence of a new group.

Population C: This group can come from any of the above mentioned groups. They do not interact, but rather interface. Their ages are undefinable, they are faceless, and nameless. These individuals have been influenced by a technological period that has advanced more in the last decade than it did in the thirty years prior to that. In order to transact and remain relevant, they have been forced into a space where they needed to shape up (or rather upgrade from a Nokia brick to a smart phone). As they have no choice to transact electronically with providers and suppliers – be it a retailer, communicating with an employer, or emailing their medical records to a health professional / medical aid, they crave the anonymity that all other members of Population C want and have come to expect.  

When considering your challenges implementing POPI, a simple test to use is: Can I identify which generation this individual comes from and am I making it that much easier for anyone else to do the same? If the answer to that simple question is “yes”, then you probably need to focus on tightening your controls. If you’ve answered “no”, then just to make sure, ask yourself: Do my controls render this person as part of Population C, that is nameless, faceless, ageless? Are they completely anonymous to anyone that should not be party to this information and have I taken enough steps for them to remain that way?

Our identities comprise of information about our lives – likes, dislikes, physical information and demographics. Protecting that information is very important because honest citizens are not the only individuals that make up Population C. Just as we crave anonymity, the criminals lurking within Population C can hide in plain sight as they too remain nameless, faceless and undefinable.

At TCF Institute South Africa, we focus on the protection of the good citizens of Population C through our POPI workshops. We focus on the principles of the law and how it contributes towards the protection of consumers  - the very people that every business needs in order to prosper.

In the words of Special Agent Avery Ryan (Patricia Arquette), the main character in the hit show CSI Cyber, we “ ”wage a war against a new breed of criminal hiding on the deep web (or on the other end of the phone, or rummaging through your trash). Infiltrating our daily lives in ways we never imagined. Faceless, nameless, lurking inside our devices. Just a keystroke away. IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU."

Jann is the director and founder of TCF Institute South Africa. TCF Institute South Africa offers skills development opportunities to individuals while they are advancing their careers. Contact the Institute or connect with Jann on LinkedIn for more information on how to turn principles into practice.