Privacy Act Clarification
9 September 2002 at 1:09 pm
The Privacy Commission has published a Consultation Paper, which proposes to restrict charities and commercial organisations collecting personal information from publicly available sources. However the Howard Government has denied that Charities will be prevented from using telephone directories for fundraising work.
The Consultation paper proposals seek to prevent collection or use of personal information from sources such as the White pages, directories, public registers, books, newspapers and magazines.
The restrictions were due to be introduced after completion of the consultation period in the form of an Information Sheet.
However the Federal Government has issued a statement saying Charities are not prevented from using telephone directories for fund-raising work under the Privacy Act.
The Federal Attorney-General Daryl Williams says he welcomes the discussion paper issued by the Federal Privacy Commissioner in relation to the use of public sources of information.
However, there appears to be some confusion in the community over the impact of the Privacy Act on the important activities of charities.
Williams says that under the Privacy Act, charitable organisations are not prevented from using publicly available sources to obtain names and contact details for potential donors.
He says the Howard Government has no plans for it to do so and would challenge any suggestion to the contrary. The Act is intended to provide individuals with some control over how their personal information is used and disclosed.
Williams says organisations that collect information for inclusion in a generally available publication, such as a telephone directory, are obliged to inform the person whose information is collected what that information will be used for.
He emphasises that charities and other organisations that make use of information provided in generally available publications are not under a similar obligation.
The AG says it is a reasonable expectation that information in a telephone directory would be used for purposes of making contact with the people listed.
However, any information separately held by such organisations would be subject to the normal privacy principles and any organisation that handles information in accordance with people’s reasonable expectations has nothing to fear from this legislation.
If you have an opinion on this privacy topic why not join our on-line Forum at probonoaustralia.com.au.