Victorian government bears brunt of privacy complaints: report

Twenty-nine out of 36 new complaints received by Privacy Victoria were about local/state government entities

Victorian state councils, statutory authorities and government departments generated 29 information privacy complaints to Privacy Victoria, according to its annual report.

Privacy Victoria’s 2013-14 Annual Report was tabled in the Victorian Parliament this week. Of the 36 new complaints received, 12 were made against local councils, nine against statutory authorities and eight against state government departments.

There were five complaints relating to contracted service providers, one complaint about the Victorian Police and one complaint against a court/tribunal.

Most of the complaints related to inappropriate handling of personal information and data security.

“Often a privacy enquiry will involve a caller’s concern about the way an organisation has handled his or her personal information. In responding to these enquiries, we work to support and give callers guidance about how they might resolve the issue directly with the organisation involved,” acting Victorian Privacy Commissioner David Watts wrote in the report.

“We also assist organisations who are responding to an enquiry or complaint made to them.”

The Office received a total of 2,468 enquiries during the period, up from 2,450 enquiries in the period 2012-13.

There were 829 enquiries about the <i>Information Privacy Act 2000</i> relating to possible breaches of privacy. For example, an employer at a company proposed implementing a biometrics system at work to record staff attendance. The enquirer was concerned that the implementation was a breach of staff privacy.

There were 192 enquiries about surveillance. “An analysis of the enquiries concerning surveillance revealed that tracking of individuals through electronic devices, CCTV and the use of smartphones to record meetings or events continues to be significant themes,” read the report.

“Workplace surveillance enquiries commonly involved employees enquiring as to whether employers are permitted to install cameras/tracking devices at workplaces or in company vehicles.”

In addition, there were 94 enquiries about property privacy. Fifty-eight of these enquiries were about real estate agents or landlords’ photographing or filming rental properties during property inspections or when the property is being put for sale.

Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection

On 17 September 2014, The Victorian Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection was established under the <i>Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014(PDPA).

The PDPA was passed in August 2014 to replace two separate acts: the Information Privacy Act and the <i>Commissioner for Law Enforcement Data Security Act 2005.

The Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection office was created to strengthen the protection of information held by the Victorian public sector, including personal information.

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Tags victorian governmentprivacy legislationprivacy breachesDavid WattsPrivacy Victoria

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