Emergency Declaration provides special privacy powers


By Jonathan Nally
Wednesday, 22 January, 2020


Emergency Declaration provides special privacy powers

A special federal government Privacy (Australian Bushfires Disaster) Emergency Declaration has given agencies and private sector organisations the authority to operate under emergency privacy provisions to help people affected by the bushfires, and coordinate and manage the response.

The Declaration allows personal information about those affected by the bushfires to be exchanged by agencies and private sector organisations for specific purposes that may not otherwise be allowed under the Privacy Act 1988.

“The Declaration will allow appropriate access to personal information about an individual impacted by the bushfires to help with a timely response to the bushfire emergency,” Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said.

“It recognises the need to use personal information to provide support for people affected by these devastating bushfires, while protecting their right to privacy.”

The Declaration means that personal information can be “collected, used or disclosed for a purpose that directly relates to the Commonwealth’s response to the emergency”, such as:

  • identifying people who are or may be injured, missing or deceased;
  • helping people to obtain medical treatment, health services, financial assistance or other humanitarian services;
  • assisting law enforcement with the bushfire emergency;
  • coordinating or managing the emergency response;
  • ensuring those who are responsible for individuals involved in the emergency are kept appropriately informed.
     

The Declaration will be in force for the next 12 months.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Daria Ni

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