Businesses operating in Australia that collect any kind of “personal information” may be required to comply with strict obligations in relation to privacy protection in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).
For these purposes, “personal information” is defined to mean, in summary:
“information or an opinion, whether true or not, and whether recorded in a material form or not, about an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable”
Common examples include names, addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, medical records, bank account details and even personal opinions.
Extra obligations are placed around the collection and handling of “sensitive information”. This includes (without limitation) information about a person’s health, racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, membership of associations or unions, religious or philosophical beliefs or affiliations, sexual orientation and/or criminal record.
The 13 key privacy principles
The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) lays down 13 key principles in relation to the collection and treatment of personal information. In summary, the privacy principles relate to the following:
- Open and transparent management of personal information
- Anonymity and pseudonymity
- Collection of solicited personal information
- Dealing with unsolicited personal information
- Notification of the collection of personal information
- Use or disclosure of personal information
- Direct marketing
- Cross-border disclosure of personal information
- Adoption, use or disclosure of government related identifiers
- Quality of personal information
- Security of personal information
- Access to personal information
- Correction of personal information
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