POPI puts an end to signing in as L E Phant

When we visited friends living at Oasis Retirement Resort, Century City, security was tight.

The concierges scan in your licence disc and your driving licence, and under the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) it is legal, said Cape Town lawyer, Marlon Shevelew of Marlon Shevelew and Associates.

“You can object but they could also refuse you entry. However, the information must be processed in a way that does not infringe on your privacy and it must not be kept for longer than necessary, long enough, for example, so they can find you if you damage anything while on their property,” Mr Shevelew said.

“There are a number of requirements in POPI which the party collecting the information must meet: they must take reasonable steps to ensure that you are aware that the information is being collected. Complexes such as Oasis generally reserve right of access, so while you are entitled to refuse to give your details, they are entitled to refuse access. After all, it is private property.

“They would probably not prevent you from parking outside and walking in, and I would be surprised if, in such a case, you were required to do more than sign a visitor’s book. You are requesting the right to access in your motor vehicle and utilise their parking, and in light of the myriad potential issues that could arise, it is I believe, justifiable that they would want to record your personal information. Whether actual copies of your licences are necessary is a complex debate, however, it is clearly an efficient way of extracting relevant information without wasting too much of your time,” said Mr Shevelew.

However, if there is some breach in the future, you are protected by POPI, which ensures that Oasis takes reasonable steps to prevent unauthorised use or access to your personal information.

Maggie Rowley, spokesperson for Rabie, the developers of Oasis (Century City), said their service provider, At The Gate, is compliant with POPI and they can set the number of days they want to store the data. “In this case, 30 days, which gives on-site management time to research an incident if it needs to. The act says ‘as long as deemed necessary’.

“At The Gate does not sell information they get and no personal information is displayed or stored on any of the scanning devices and only authorised on-site management have access to the secure back-end where the recorded information is stored. According to At The Gate, the paper-based system of logging vehicles and visitors in and out of a property, as we used to do, is now in contravention of the POPI Act as visitors, guards or third parties can gather information about people that have accessed the property before them,” Ms Rowley said.

If property is damaged they would check CCTV cameras to find footage of the incident to help the visitor and the resident but the main purpose of the device is to ensure that Oasis has the correct information of people entering the development.

Oasis rules stipulate that only licensed drivers and vehicles are permitted to use its private roadways.

When I left the complex the security guards didn’t check my vehicle. Why? I wanted to know.

“The ‘concierges’ have been instructed to also scan vehicles and driving licences on exit but this instruction has unfortunately not always been adhered to. On-site management will continue to monitor the process for each visitor to be scanned in and out. If there was an incident and the car and driving licence had not been scanned going out we would then look for back-up information from our CCTV cameras,” said Ms Rowley, who added that Oasis is not the only development at Century City to use the At The Gate scanning device.

Two other residential developments have so far embraced it as well as a number of the office buildings and office parks within Century City.

“The Century City Property Owners’ Association (CCPOA), which is responsible for the day-to-day running of Century City and to which all stakeholders belong, was one of the first organisations in South Africa to deploy a comprehensive incident management platform called Incident Desk, which is developed and distributed in South Africa by Solution House.

“This system has been expanded with the introduction of At The Gate’s simplified access control and visitor management solution which uses a handheld device and custom-developed Android app to monitor the flow of all vehicles in and out of entry points to buildings, estates, precincts and almost any other gated thoroughfare.

“At The Gate gives site managers instant access to information on a vehicle and driver once the licence plate, licence disk or driver’s card has been scanned. Using a comprehensive licence plate database developed by the CCPOA, any suspicious or flagged vehicle raises an Incident Desk alert, which is automatically sent to the Century City Control Centre. This gives us the time we need to proactively mobilise our staff to the incident, whereas before we would possibly have received the information about a suspicious vehicle too late to act on it,” Ms Rowley said.

It appears the days of signing in as Mikey Maus or L E Phant and writing your details in an illegible scrawl without the security guard raising an eyebrow, are over.