Queensland government agency systems, such as CCTV, which involve the collection and storage, use or disclosure of personal information are subject to the privacy obligations in the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IP Act).
The IP Act plays a key role in safeguarding the rights of community members’ personal information and provides clear principles and rules to guide appropriate behaviour by public sector agencies, including councils. These obligations do not prevent an agency using camera surveillance for legitimate business activities; they will, however, affect the policies and practices associated with how the camera surveillance system operates.
Queensland’s Privacy Commissioner Philip Green said, “Existing and emerging technologies with advanced image, audio, tracking and analytical capabilities pose a serious threat to an individual’s privacy and significant gaps remain in the current legal framework.”
A number of considerations apply when using surveillance devices including: whether any interference with the right to privacy of an individual is necessary, undertaken for a legitimate purpose and proportionate to the legitimate purpose for which it is being used.
Proportionality is also important to ensuring a balance is achieved between safeguarding the privacy of individuals and other public interests, such as, the identification and prevention of crime and ensuring the safety of children.
“It is important for government to be open, transparent and accountable about the use of technologies that impact directly on citizens’ rights”, Privacy Commissioner Green said.
The Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) is currently reviewing Queensland’s laws relating to civil surveillance and the protection of privacy in the context of current and emerging technologies. The QLRC consultation paper inviting submissions is available here. Submissions closed on 31 January 2019.
The Office of the Information Commissioner, is Queensland’s independent statutory body established under the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) and the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) to promote access to government-held information, and to protect people’s personal information held by the public sector.
If any individual believes their privacy has been breached they should make a privacy complaint to the council or other government agency involved. If the individual is dissatisfied with the agency’s response to their complaint, they can contact the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) to discuss lodging their privacy complaint with OIC.
Queenslanders are also protected by the Invasion of Privacy Act 1971 (Qld) however this legislation is outside the Office of the Information Commissioner’s jurisdiction.
People can contact the OIC on 1800 642 753 for assistance about privacy and surveillance by Queensland government agencies.