State privacy legislation

Contributed by AjunthaThinakaran and current to 27 July 2018

The state public sector in Western Australia does not currently have a legislative privacy regime. Various confidentiality provisions cover government agencies and some of the privacy principles are provided for in the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (WA) overseen by the Office of the Information Commissioner (WA). The Health and Disability Services Complaints Office (HaDSCO) is an independent statutory authority that also handles complaints relating to health and disability services in Western Australia. Privacy in the health care sector is partly within the jurisdiction of the Office of Health Review.

Other State legislation which deal with privacy are:
  • The Restraining Orders Act (WA) relates to Stalking, Harassment and other Forms of Threatening Behaviour
  • Surveillance Devices Act 1998 (WA) regulates the use of surveillance devices in Western Australia. It also restricts the communication and publication of information obtained through the use of surveillance devices. A 'surveillance device' is defined as a listening device, an optical surveillance device or a tracking device. This Act indirectly protects privacy rights by restricting the use, installation and maintenance of listening devices to record 'private conversations'. However, there is no mention of data surveillance devices in the legislation. [http://www.smartsafe.org.au/legal-guides/legal-guide-surveillance-legislation#one]
  • Freedom of Information Act 1992 (WA) which includes a right of access to and correction of personal information held by government agencies.
  • State Records Act 2000 (WA)
  • Spent Convictions Act 1988 (WA)
  • Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Western Australia Act 1996 (WA)
Additionally, most agencies' governing statutes include provisions that intentionally or incidentally provide privacy protections.

In relation to Data Privacy within Western Australia, there is no specific agency responsible for privacy oversight. The 2007 Information Privacy Bill did not progress.

[References: http://rogerclarke.com/DV/POA.html#WA
http://www.smartsafe.org.au/legal-guides/legal-guide-surveillance-legislation#one ]

Office of the Information Commissioner (WA)

The Information Commissioner is an independent officer who reports directly to Parliament. The position is established by the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (the FOI Act) and is supported by staff of the Office of the Information Commissioner (the OIC).

The main function of the Information Commissioner is to, in response to complaints by applicants, provide independent external review of decisions made by agencies on access applications and requests to amend personal information under the FOI Act.

The Information Commissioner's other responsibilities include:
  • ensuring that agencies are aware of their responsibilities under the FOI Act;
  • ensuring that members of the public are aware of the FOI Act and their rights;
  • providing assistance to members of the public and agencies on matters relevant to the FOI Act; and
  • recommending to Parliament legislative or administrative changes that could be made to help the objects of the FOI Act to be achieved.
The Information Commissioner is also a member of the State Records Commission, which is supported by the State Records Office.

As at July 2018, the Acting Information Commissioner is Lisa Ward.

[Reference/ Link : https://www.oic.wa.gov.au/en-au/H005 ]

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