What are my rights if telemarketers call me without my permission?

Telemarketers constantly inundate me with calls. Is this an offence?

The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) doesn’t protect you from marketers who contact you telephonically unless you explicitly tell them to stop calling you.

Section 69 of POPIA deals with processing your personal information without your consent. You must consent to direct marketing using any form of electronic communication. The section mentions automatic calling machines (a machine that can do automated calls without human intervention), facsimile machines, SMSs, or e-mail.

“Electronic communication” is something transmitted over electronic communications networks, stored in the network or the recipient’s equipment (such as a text, a voice, a sound, or an image).

The section does not explicitly include phone marketing in its definition of unsolicited electronic communication. A telephone is not an electronic communications device.

So, telemarketers may call you and ask you to consent to the call and the sales pitch. If you object, they may not contact you again.

If you want to bother, you can request the name of the telemarketers and note their numbers. You can complain to their company or the Information Regulator of South Africa if they don’t stop calling you after you told them telephonically.

Should you object to further calls, any further processing of your information for this purpose is a breach of the provisions of Section 69.

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