Check in data protected by strict privacy requirements

September 6, 2021 - 10:37am

The Office of the Information Commissioner welcomes introduction of legislation by the Queensland Government to enhance trust and transparency in the use of Check In Qld App data.  Queensland Parliament, on 2 September 2021, passed amendments to the Public Health Act 2005 to enhance privacy protections for personal information collected through the Check In Qld app, or alternative methods, by ensuring that it can only be used for contact tracing or contact tracing related purposes.

Public concerns had been raised nationally in Western Australia which introduced legislation as well as in Queensland and internationally about uses (secondary) other than for contact tracing purposes.

As mandatory check in has been expanded across venues and sectors, this has become more of an issue of concern given the use of accurate and reliable data is vital to contact tracing efforts to keep Queenslanders and our visitors safe, and minimise lock downs and disruption to the community.

Queensland Privacy Commissioner, Phil Green said that all Queenslanders can feel confident that there are strict requirements about the use of Check In Qld app contact tracing information, and similar information provided to venues where required, and that the use of the information is proportionate and reasonable in the interests of public safety.

In view of the change to the Check In Qld app to mandatory requirements across expanding sectors, and noting concerns about secondary access to contract tracing data across jurisdictions, we recommend timely and publicly available privacy impact assessments (PIAs), and supported clear regulation.

Maintaining public trust and confidence in the app will ensure that Queenslanders can associate and access essential goods and services without fear of being traced, or other privacy impacts, apart from the reasonable and proportionate collection for contact tracing which protects the broader community and is generally understood and accepted in the current pandemic.

OIC considers the legislative amendments will provide certainty and reassure the community that data collected by the Check In Qld app (and alternative methods) will only be used for contact tracing purposes so that the maximum public health and safety benefits can be obtained through continued community acceptance and compliance with use of the Check In Qld app. This is even more critical given the recent expansion of the mandatory requirement for the Check In Qld app to taxis, limousines and rideshare operators.