Information Privacy: What’s it to you...

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…as a State Government employee?

You have a responsibility under Premier and Cabinet Circular PC012 - Information Privacy Principles Instruction (IPPI) to ensure that the personal information you collect on behalf of your agency is kept safe and used only for the purpose it was collected.

The Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 generally does not apply to State Government agencies.

So what is personal information?

Personal information is defined in the IPPI as 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 information or opinion. This may include name, address, date of birth, medical of financial information.

So what do I need to do?

When collecting personal information, affected individuals must be told

  • the purpose for which their personal information is being collected,
  • how it will be used and stored, and
  • who the agency may disclose it to.

Each agency should have privacy policies in place to ensure the personal information they collect is managed appropriately. If you are not familiar with the IPPI or your agency’s privacy policies speak to your manager.

What if something goes wrong?

The Privacy Committee of South Australia (PCSA) is responsible for oversite of the IPPI. They receive and review complaints of breaches of privacy by individuals. They must also be advised by agencies if they become aware that personal information has been intentionally or unintentionally lost or misused.

The PCSA provides advice on improving privacy policy and management to Government. State Records supports the PCSA.

Where do I go for more information?

For more information on the IPPI and resources, go to https://archives.sa.gov.au/.  

What about information sharing?

Sharing of personal information across government is allowed in prescribed circumstances. The South Australian Public Sector (Data Sharing) Act 2016 and Government’s Information Sharing Guidelines, as well as to IPPI, provide further advice.

 

…as a member of the public?

You have the right to expect that your personal information will only be collected by South Australian State Government agencies when it is necessary and proper to do so; and that once it is collected it will be managed in accordance with the law.

For South Australian State Government agencies, the main privacy law is Premier and Cabinet Circular PC012 - Information Privacy Principles Instruction (IPPI).

So what is ‘information privacy’ and ‘personal information’?

Essentially ‘information privacy’ means how your personal information is handled.

Agencies are required to comply with the IPPI and have privacy policies in place to ensure that they are actively and responsibly managing the personal information collect in or that they can undertake their role within government.

Under the IPPI, ‘personal information’ is defined as ‘information or an opinion, whether true or not, relating a natural (living) person or the affairs of a natural person whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained, from the information or opinion’.

Personal information can include; name, address, date of birth, financial or health details, ethnicity, gender, religion.

The personal information held by an agency may be collected in paper form, verbally or through electronic means.

What if I’m unhappy with how South Australian State Government agency has managed my personal information?

If you believe a South Australian State Government agency has failed to comply with the IPPI and has breached your information privacy you should, in the first instance, contact a senior officer in that agency.

If the agency is unable to help you, or you are dissatisfied with the response, you can lodge a complaint with the Privacy Committee of South Australia.

The Privacy Committee is unable to respond to complaints about Commonwealth Government agencies or private sector organisations.

What if it’s not a South Australian State Government agency that I’m unhappy with?

To find out how other agencies and organisations outside of the South Australian State Government handle information privacy (including how they define personal information) you will need to refer directly to their privacy policy.  

An agency’s or organisation’s privacy policy can usually be found on their website or you can request a copy directly from them.

If you wish to make a complaint about a non-South Australian State Government agency, including a local government authority or university, or another private organisation you will need to direct your complaint in the first instance to them.

If dissatisfied with a Commonwealth Agency’s or private organisation’s response you should contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) for further advice.  Under the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 the OAIC can respond to complaints about:

  • Commonwealth Government agencies
  • Private organisations with an annual turn-over of $3million or more
  • Australian Capital Territory Government agencies.