There are a set of binding privacy standards for the NSW public sector, known as information protection principles, that regulate the way public sector agencies collect, use, store and disclose personal information. These standards are set out in the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (PPIP Act).
In summary, the Information Protection Principles are:
Information is to be kept no longer than necessary and disposed of appropriately, protected by reasonable security safeguards and protected from unauthorised use or disclosure.
In certain circumstances NSW Fair Trading does not have to comply with one or more of the Information Protection Principles.
Generally, Fair Trading does not have to comply with certain Information Protection Principles where this would prevent Fair Trading from carrying out its proper functions, such as law enforcement, investigation of suspected illegal conduct and dealing with consumer complaints.
The Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act also regulates the operation of public registers maintained by Fair Trading. The Act requires Fair Trading to:
Under the information protection principles outlined above, Fair Trading is required to provide people with sufficient information about Fair Trading’s holdings of personal information to enable them to exercise their rights to access and correct information about themselves, and to give people access to personal information about themselves without unreasonable delay and expense.
If you wish to have access to personal information which Fair Trading holds about you, you can fill out a Privacy/Freedom of Information Request for Access form, available from Fair Trading. Fair Trading does not have to permit access to personal information if it would compromise Fair Trading’s investigative or law enforcement activities.
If Fair Trading holds personal information about you, you are entitled to ask Fair Trading to alter the information in order to ensure it is accurate. Fair Trading generally requires requests for alteration of personal information to be in writing.
Fair Trading does not have to alter personal information if it would compromise Fair Trading’s investigative or law enforcement activities.
If you are unhappy with the way Fair Trading has dealt with your personal information, you can make a complaint. The complaint should be in writing, addressed to NSW Fair Trading, specify a return address within Australia, and be lodged with Fair Trading within 6 months of the time when you first became aware of the conduct you are complaining about.
If the complaint concerns a possible breach of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act or a Privacy Code of Practice, Fair Trading is required to review the conduct complained about. Depending on the review outcome, the Act provides that Fair Trading may:
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the review you can apply to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal for a further review of the conduct. The Tribunal has the power to make any orders that it thinks necessary, including the power to award damages of up to $40,000.
Privacy complaints can also be directed to Privacy NSW, which is the office of the NSW Privacy Commissioner. The Commissioner has powers to conduct research and investigations, provide advice and education, and handle complaints about privacy breaches. The Commissioner does not have power to make orders or to award compensation but will conciliate complaints by assisting parties to reach a decision that all, including the Commissioner, are happy with.
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