Abstract: While open science gains prominence in South Africa with the encouragement of open data sharing for research purposes, there are stricter laws and regulations around privacy – and specifically the use, management and transfer of personal information – to consider. The Protection of Personal Information Act No. 4 of 2013 (POPIA), which came into effect in 2021, established stringent requirements for the processing of personal information and has changed the regulatory landscape for the transfer of personal information across South African borders. At the same time, draft national policies on open science encourage wide accessibility to data and open data sharing in line with international best practice. As a result, the operation of research ethics committees (RECs) in South Africa is affected by the conflicting demands of the shift towards open science on the one hand, and the stricter laws protecting participants’ personal information and the transfer thereof, on the other. This article explores the continuing evolving role of RECs in the era of open data and recommends the development of a data transfer agreement (DTA) for the ethical management of personal health information, considering the challenges that RECs encounter, which centres predominantly on privacy, data sharing and access concerns following advances in genetic and genomic research and biobanking.