Not irrelevant - dealing with information under the IP Act

February 9, 2021 - 2:46pm

Misunderstanding around how to deal with information in documents applied for under the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IP Act) is a common issue. To assist agencies, we have updated the Which Act applies guideline and the Deleting Irrelevant information guideline and set out some information that we hope may be useful.

The IP Act gives individuals the right to apply for access to documents that contain their personal information. This is a simple yes/no test that governs whether the application can be made under the IP Act: documents either do, or do not, have the applicant's personal information in them. If they do, they can be applied for under the IP Act, even if the personal information is minimal or only on one page of a several-page document. If they don't contain any personal information, the application must be made under the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI Act).

Under the IP Act, the applicant's personal information appearing in the documents is simply the catalyst for triggering the right to apply. Decisions must be made on the documents in the same way they would be if the application had been made under the RTI Act. Information cannot be marked as irrelevant because the entire document does not comprise the applicant's personal information; this is as true for an IP Act application as it would be for an RTI Act application. Some information may be irrelevant, depending on the specific terms of the application, but when processing an IP Act application, all information must be considered in its own right.

In summary, an applicant who applies under the IP Act has the right to access both their own personal information and any other information contained in the documents that falls within their application. This right is subject to limitations, and access may legitimately be refused if it is contrary to the public interest to release—or it may be deleted if it is genuinely irrelevant to the terms of their application—but under the IP Act information is not irrelevant simply because it's not the applicant's personal information.

Please refer to Which Act applies and Deletion of Irrelevant Information for more information or contact the Enquiries Service on (07) 3234 7373 (select option 1) or enquiries@oic.qld.gov.au.