Be prepared for privacy!

November 11, 2021 - 2:26pm

Know your privacy obligations when sharing information in an emergency

Disasters happen, ready or not!

Emergencies like bushfires, floods, cyclones and disease outbreaks can occur without notice. It’s important to be prepared, know your privacy obligations and understand the privacy flexibilities contained in the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IP Act).

Knowing how to apply the flexibilities can help to protect the vulnerable and save lives.

But what are the flexibilities? And how can agencies be better prepared?

The IP Act contains protections and provisions for personal information held by Queensland public sector agencies. This includes flexibilities for dealing with personal information in an emergency. Some of these flexibilities include specific exemptions in the privacy principles governing secondary use and disclosure for situations where the health and safety of individuals may be at risk.

Agencies can prepare for privacy and sharing information in an emergency by developing an information sharing strategy. A strategy prepares agencies by:

  • anticipating the situations that may result in requests for information
  • establishing policies before an emergency occurs
  • supporting staff to respond confidently and quickly to emergencies reducing the risk of personal information being handled inappropriately during an emergency
  • ensuring agencies are mindful of other legislative provisions that may impact information sharing i.e., confidentiality provisions.

Queensland public sector agencies who are prepared for privacy and sharing information appropriately in an emergency, can provide a more streamlined response, make better decisions and respond without delay. In turn agencies will minimise risks for the community, privacy breaches, and impacts on trust in how an agency handles their personal information.

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