Key privacy concepts - practicable and impracticable


The Key Privacy Concepts guidelines explain important words and phrases used in the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IP Act). They are intended to assist in the interpretation and application of the privacy principles in the IP Act. 

IPPs and NPPs which refer to 'practicable'

The word ‘practicable’ is used throughout the Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) and the National Privacy Principles (NPPs), in particular:

  • IPP 2(4)
  • IPP 10(1)(f)
  • IPP 11(1)(f), IPP 11(4)
  • NPP 1(3)
  • NPP 8

NPPs which refer to ‘impracticable’

The word ‘impracticable’ is also used throughout the principles, in particular:

  • NPP 2(1)(c)
  • NPP 2(5)
  • NPP 9(3)(c)

Meaning of 'practicable'

The Macquarie Dictionary defines ‘practicable’ as ‘capable of being done’ especially with the available means or with reason or prudence ie it is feasible to be done. Whether something is practicable or not will be determined having regard to all the circumstances. 

It is not sufficient to consider something not practicable simply because it is inconvenient, difficult, or will increase costs. While these factors, and the severity of them, can be relevant when determining if something is or is not practicable, the fact that a practice is made slightly more onerous is not enough.

When would something be ‘impracticable’?

Some of the factors that could make an action impracticable are where meeting the standard or principles would:

  • increase costs to an unworkable extent, such that a project or action in the public interest could not be undertaken – if the project or action will primarily or only benefit an agency, this may not be a valid consideration
  • render a legitimate and lawful action pointless, such as provision of a collection notice when collecting information covertly as part of a law enforcement investigation
  • make a legitimate action in the public interest extremely difficult or impossible
  • endanger the health or safety of an individual, or an investigation into a breach of the law
  • be contrary to the public interest.


Current as at: July 19, 2013