Privacy Awareness Week

This week it’s Privacy Awareness Week

Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) is an initiative from the Office of the Information Commissioner to raise awareness of the importance of valuing personal information and generating better understanding of the Australian community’s rights and responsibilities when it comes to privacy

The theme for PAW 2020 is: Be smart about privacy.

Having discussions around privacy when it comes to governments seems timely considering the recent introduction of the Australian Government’s COVIDSafe App. If you haven’t heard about it yet, the Australian Government on April 26th launched an app to facilitate contact-tracing between individuals. The app has been introduced as one of the measures necessary for government restrictions on social distancing to be lifted, however, there has been significant controversy regarding the privacy issues of the app. A number of news sources like the ABC and SBS have covered the concerns raised by the public. The main concerns centre around how the government stores the information, how it is protected and who has access to it.

Now the answers to these concerns are still waiting to be addressed as the government is yet to release the source code for the app. However, what is important to reflect on in the meantime is what our rights and responsibilities are when it comes to privacy and the government.

Before we go any further it is important to note that government privacy laws differ state-to-state and also federally. In Queensland, our government is guided by the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IPA), whereas the Federal Government is answerable to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act). Furthermore, organisations who engage with the state government may also be contractually bound to comply with the State legislation. Entities which contracts with the Commonwealth government must comply with the Privacy Act.

The Queensland Government and bound government contractors are placed under strict obligations when it comes to handling personal information.

They are guided by the IPA’s Information Privacy Principles which include:

  • that personal information only be collected by lawful and fair means;
  • making individuals aware of what the information will be used for;
  • minimal collection of information;
  • storage and security requirements of information;
  • allowing individuals to access and amend their information; and
  • only using personal information for the purpose it was collected.

The Federal Government is similarly guided by the Australian Privacy Principles (APP) stipulated under the Privacy Act. The APP sets out 13 principles for government agencies (and other organisations which fall under the Privacy Act) to abide by. These include:

  • open and transparent management of personal information;
  • collection of personal information;
  • use or disclosure of personal information;
  • quality of personal information;
  • security of personal information;
  • access to personal information; and
  • correction of personal information.

SMART measures for Privacy Awareness Week

This year, the government has highlighted how we can all be SMART about privacy

Privacy Awareness Week is a great step by the Federal and State Governments to annually remind public servants and the community of their rights and responsibilities when it comes to privacy.

Public sector

Public servants are being told to be SMART:

S: Store and secure personal information

M: Minimise collection

A: Adopt privacy by design

R: Responsible Handling

T: Transparency builds trust

General community

Whereas the community is being encouraged to be SMART:

S: Secure your personal information

M: Multi-factor authentication helps protect

A: Actively check and update privacy settings

R: Read T&Cs when signing up to apps and emails

T: Think twice before sharing details on social media

Speak to a Privacy Lawyer

Privacy law, cyber security and data breaches

If you have any concerns about your rights or responsibilities in relation to privacy whether as an individual or an organisation, then why not give us a call for a free 15-minute consultation? We’re experts in providing not only legal advice, but also practical advice when it comes to business, government and privacy.

In the meantime, you can watch this handy animation produced by the QLD Office of the Information Commissioner on your privacy rights in Queensland:

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IT Lawyers Brisbane are supporters of Privacy Awareness Week

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