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PAW 2020: Privacy and pivots – be aware of original purpose of collection

08 May 2020

#Data & Privacy, #COVID-19

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PAW 2020: Privacy and pivots – be aware of original purpose of collection

As Privacy Awareness Week occurs this year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is opportune to remember the key privacy principle of using personal information for the purposes for which it was collected.

At a time when many businesses are modifying their products and activities to meet changing customer demands, it is easy to forget about privacy. However, if the new product or activity uses personal information which was collected for a different purpose, there may be non-compliance with Australian Privacy Principle (APP) 6. This APP provides that a business which holds personal information must only use that information for a purpose for which it was collected (primary purpose). The information may also be used for another purpose (secondary purpose) where the individual concerned consented to that use, or would reasonably expect that use, and the secondary use is related to the primary use. In terms of “consent”, this can be implied, but it must be informed, current and specific.

So if you have operated a restaurant, and you now offer take away food, and you use email addresses provided by customers to notify them about your new takeaway offering, it is quite likely that you can make the case that the customer would reasonably expect to have their email address used for such a purpose.

Conversely, a microbrewery that uses such email addresses to notify previous purchasers of beer about the new hand sanitiser it is producing may be dealing with a higher risk of non-compliance.

Much will always depend on the particular circumstances, including the situation in which the customer details are obtained. For example, was there an express consent box ticked by the customer to a subsequent contact, or an acknowledgement of the company’s privacy policy? Was the information gathered as part of a competition, or a beer giveaway promotion? 

Accordingly, any change of business or offering is a great prompt to check the age of your customer data sets, and the circumstances in which they were obtained – it may be time for a Coronavirus clean up!

Author: Dan Pearce

The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this newsletter is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.

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