Data matching

Privacy and data matching continue to be major issues for governments, State and Federal, in 2017.

When the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) released its survey into public attitudes towards privacy as part of Privacy Awareness Week in May this year, the results were interesting. The community was asked how trustworthy they considered 14 different types of organisations. The highest levels of trust were recorded for:

  • health service providers (79%)
  • financial institutions (59%)
  • state and federal government departments (both 58%).

The industries with the lowest levels of trust include social media (12%) and e-commerce (19%).

Given that individuals can choose not to deal with commercial entities but generally have no choice with government departments, this result is disappointing.

Governments however do score better on data sharing: 33% of people are comfortable with the idea of agencies sharing data while 49% are uncomfortable. These results are better than the private sector figures where only 10% of people are comfortable with businesses sharing their personal information, while 79% are uncomfortable.

This is also relevant in that the OAIC announced, as part of Privacy Awareness Week, that it would be developing an Australian Public Service Privacy Code. The Code is intended to be operational from 1 July 2018 and to assist government in balancing the requirements of privacy protection and supporting data innovation and the use of big data to obtain benefits for the public. It is proposed that the Code will be developed in close collaboration with the Australian Public Service and the OAIC.

The issues in big data usage, open data policy and using data for innovative purposes will continue to be topical as this new code of practice is developed and implemented.

This is not surprising given some of the recent issues that have arisen out of the Department of Human Services (DHS) in relation to the Centrelink robo-debt issues and the findings that there had been major frauds within the family day care system. The Minister for Human Services announced recently that a significant expansion of activity into data matching was being undertaken to ensure the integrity of the DHS data matching system and to minimise the cases of fraud.

It is clear that in 2017 mere compliance with the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 is not enough to meet community expectations around the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. If agencies want to acquire the social licence to use data to its full potential then they will need to take steps to increase trust and transparency. In the commonwealth sphere the new APS Privacy Code is a solid foundation for this.

Editorial: Lyn Nicholson

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In the media

NSW A-G disputes Brandis' plan to increase politicians' parole powers
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman says judges, not politicians, should decide when someone is freed from jail, after his federal counterpart George Brandis calls for state and territory attorney-generals to decide on parole for criminals with terrorism links (08 June 2017).  More...

NSW Recorded Crime Statistics March 2017
None of the major crime categories have increased in NSW over the last two years. In the 24 months to March 2017, four of the 17 major offences were trending downward and the remaining 13 were stable (08 June 2017).  More...

Review of victims' role in sentencing in NSW
Attorney General Mark Speakman has requested the Sentencing Council to review victims' input into the sentencing of offenders to examine whether they can have a stronger voice or be given more support.
The Sentencing Council will also examine how the current sentencing process affects victims and will research positive developments in other Australian and overseas jurisdictions (05 June 2017).  More...

Judge Johnstone reappointed as Children's Court President
Judge Peter Johnstone's term as President of the Children's Court of NSW has been extended for a further four years, Attorney General Mark Speakman announced today (03 June 2017).  More...

Data matching expanded at DHS
The Department of Human Services (DHS) is to expand its data matching activities to further strengthen welfare compliance procedures (02 June 2017).  More...

From corruption crusader to convicted criminal in 20 years
In 1988, Ian Macdonald used his maiden speech to the NSW Parliament to call for the establishment of a corruption watchdog. Today he was jailed, joining the ICAC's growing list of political scalps (02 June 2017).  More...

Social ticketing startup Qnect blackmailed following customer data breach
Sydney-based social ticketing startup Qnect Technologies has had its customer data stolen this week, with the hackers threatening to publish the information online unless the business paid out bitcoins.Qnect’s ticketing platform is predominantly used by university societies (01 June 2017).  More...

General Data Protection Regulation guidance for Australian businesses
The OAIC has published new guidance for Australian businesses on the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements. In the lead-up to the commencement of the GDPR requirements, businesses should confirm whether they are covered by the GDPR, and if so, take steps to implement any necessary changes to ensure compliance (31 May 2017).  More...

NSW Law Society: Court backlogs delaying access to justice
Resources for our trial courts must be maintained to reduce chronic delays that are hampering access to justice.
Funding for the trial courts, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW) and Legal Aid NSW must be maintained to reduce the severe backlogs and delays that have built up over the past four years (29 May 2017).  More...

Introducing the APS Privacy Code
As part of an address to the AGS FOI and Privacy Forum on 19 May, Commissioner Pilgrim outlined the reasons and aspirations behind the introduction of the APS Privacy Code (26 May 2017).  More...

Australian Copyright Council Chair Kate Haddock weighs in on the Wikipedia Fair Use campaign
Copyright laws do not restrict access to knowledge in Australia. There is simply no evidence to show that people in this country have any difficulty accessing copyright material or the information it contains, because of our copyright laws. The only reason that Wikipedia and the other major corporations behind Mr Martin’s sources want fair use in Australia is to improve their own, already substantial, bottom lines (25 May 2017).  More...

In practice and courts

OAIC: The Cosmetic Institute reported data breach
My office has contacted The Cosmetic Institute about this reported data breach. The Privacy Act 1988 recognises the sensitive nature of health information and provides extra protections around it in recognition of the significant impact any misuse of that information can have on an individual (06 June 2017).  More...

OAIC: Notifiable Data Breaches draft resources
Draft resources on the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme have been published to assist organisations in understanding their compliance obligations from 22 February 2018. The OAIC is still in the process of developing resources about a number of other topics relating to the NDB scheme. These will be published on our website. Any comments on the draft resources are open until 14 July 2017.

OAIC: Privacy business resource 21: Australian businesses and the EU General Data Protection Regulation
From 25 May 2018 Australian businesses of any size may need to comply with the GDPR if they have an establishment in the European Union (EU), if they offer goods and services in the EU, or if they monitor the behaviours of individuals in the EU. The GDPR includes requirements that resemble those in the Privacy Act 1988, and additional measures that similarly aim to foster transparent information handling practices and business accountability around data handling.  More...

OAIC: Data + Privacy Asia Pacific Conference 2017
Privacy and data protection regulators from across the Asia Pacific region will join Australian industry leaders and data experts for the Data + Privacy Asia Pacific Conference in Sydney on 12 July this year.  More...

ANAO: Performance audit in-progress
Due to table: July 2017, the audit objective is to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of entities’ implementation of the Freedom of Information Act 1982.  More...

Commonwealth Consultations
October 2017 - Closing date for comments to the FCA on the General Practice Notes.  More...

IPC NSW: Media Reports concerning The Cosmetic Institute
Over the weekend there were reports in the media that the website of The Cosmetic Institute displayed images as well as the personal and health information of patients. The A/Privacy Commissioner is in the process of following up these allegations (05 June 2017).  More...

ICAC: Early bird discount registration now open for the Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference
Register by 15 August 2017, to take advantage of the early bird discount, via the above link to the APSACC 2017 website (29 May 2017).  More...

ICAC: Prosecution briefs with the DPP and outcomes
Tables of prosecution briefs with the DPP and outcomes, last updated 26 May 2017.  More...

ICAC public inquiry into corruption allegations concerning former Immigrant Women’s Health Service CEO (Operation Tarlo)
The ICAC Operation Tarlo public inquiry has adjourned until 13 June 2017.  More...

Published – articles, papers, reports

Corporate Planning in the Australian Public Sector
ANAO: 01 June 2017
The objective of the audit was to assess the selected entities’ progress in implementing the corporate planning requirements under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and related PGPA Rule 2014.  More...


'LM' and Australian Taxation Office (Freedom of information) [2017] AICmr 49
Freedom of Information — Whether disclosure would disclose the existence or identity of a confidential source of information — (CTH) Freedom of Information Act 1982 s 37(1)(b). 

Australian Taxation Office and Andrew Garrett (Freedom of information) [2017] AICmr 50
Freedom of Information — Vexatious applicant declaration — Whether person should be declared a vexatious applicant — Whether person has repeatedly engaged in access actions that involve an abuse of process — Whether the access actions unreasonably interfere with the operations of an agency — (CTH) Freedom of Information Act 1982 ss 89K, 89L, 89M — (CTH) Acts Interpretation Act 1901 s 33. 

'LO' and Australian Securities and Investments Commission (Freedom of information) [2017] AICmr 52
Freedom of Information — Whether disclosure would prejudice lawful investigative methods or procedures — Whether material obtained in confidence — Whether documents contain deliberative matter prepared for a deliberative purpose — Whether disclosure would have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient conduct of the operations of an agency — Whether disclosure of personal information unreasonable — Whether contrary to the public interest to release conditionally exempt documents — (CTH) Freedom of Information Act 1982, ss 11A(5), 37(2)(b), 45, 47C, 47E(d) and 47F. 

'LN' and Department of Human Services (Freedom of information) [2017] AICmr 51
Freedom of Information — Whether reasonable steps taken to locate documents — (CTH) Freedom of Information Act 1982 s 24A.  

Watkins v Woolworths Limited [2017] NSWCATAP 125
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – Civil and Administrative Tribunal – bias – whether actual or apprehended bias established – applicable principles; APPEAL – leave to appeal – miscarriage of justice – Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013 (NSW), Sch 4, cl 12.  


Bills revised following amendment in Committee

Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Amendment (Criminal Charges and Convictions) Bill 2017

Bills passed by both Houses of Parliament

Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Amendment (Criminal Charges and Convictions) Bill 2017

Bills assented to

Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Amendment (Criminal Charges and Convictions) Act 2017 No 18 — Assented to 01 June 2017

Civil Liability (Third Party Claims Against Insurers) Act 2017 No 19 — Assented to 01 June 2017

Liquor Amendment (Reviews) Act 2017 No 20 — Assented to 01 June 2017

Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2017 No 22 — Assented to 01 June 2017



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