Show me the money

October 17, 2016 - 10:28am

One of the key services that our Office provides is the management and mediation of privacy complaints against Queensland government agencies.

The Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) does not give us powers to determine whether a privacy breach has occurred, or to impose a particular settlement.  Rather, our role is to assess whether the complaint shows an ‘arguable case’ that a breach has occurred and if so, provide a mediation service.

In our experience with the privacy complaints that we accept for mediation, we have found that most complainants do not view money as an appropriate way of remedying the damages they have suffered as a consequence of the alleged privacy breach.  Instead, an apology, training, or assurances from the agency on how a similar incident will be prevented from occurring in the future, are the more commonly sought outcomes.

However, some complainants do seek a financial outcome to remedy injury to their feelings or humiliation that they have suffered.  Equally, we have had agencies seek our advice on the most appropriate financial level at which a privacy complaint might be settled.   Assigning a dollar amount to these types of damage is especially difficult to assess in the Queensland jurisdiction because to date, there has been no award of damages for injury to feelings or humiliation in a privacy matter.

Despite the Hollywood good looks of our privacy team, they are no match for Tom Cruise.  While they cannot show you the money, what they can do is show you determinations on privacy complaints that have been made in other jurisdictions, and the facts that were material to the award.

Please refer to our latest case note for further guidance.