What is Privacy?

Privacy can mean different things to different people.  Some people explain, or think of, privacy as their right to control what other people know about them.  Others think of privacy as a right to be left along to do their own thing or keeping their actions, discussions, movement and information free from public knowledge.

Added to the complexity of defining privacy is the fact that there are different types of privacy; including both bodily privacy, territorial privacy, communications privacy and information privacy.

Information Privacy

Information privacy can be defined as a person's right to control their own personal information.

Personal information is information or an opinion, whether true or not, relating to a natural person or the affairs of a natural person whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained, from the information or opinion.  A natural person, in this context, is a living human being.

Personal information can include combinations of name, address, date of birth, financial or health status, ethnicity, gender, religion, witness statements, alleged behaviours and licensing details.  It may also include photographs, biometrics or video footage.

In the South Australian public sector, information privacy is protected by the Information Privacy Principles Instruction, published as Premier and Cabinet Circular No. 12.  The Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) contained in this circular regulate the way personal information can be collected, used, stored and disclosed.  The IPPs also include a right for an individual to access and amend their own personal information via the Freedom of Information Act 1991.

Information Privacy Principles In South Australia (PDF 241KB)

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