Defining Privacy

Privacy means different things to different people. To some people privacy means their right to control what other people know about them. Others think of privacy as a right to be left alone to do their own thing or keeping their actions, discussions, movement and information free from public knowledge.

Added to the complexity of defining privacy is that there are different types of privacy including:

  • bodily privacy
  • territorial privacy
  • communications privacy and
  • information privacy

Information Privacy

Information privacy can be defined as a person's right to control their own personal information.

Personal information is information or an opinion, whether true or not, relating to a natural person or the affairs of a natural person whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained, from the information or opinion.

A natural person, in this context, is a living human being. Personal information can include combinations of:

  • name
  • address
  • date of birth
  • financial or health status
  • ethnicity
  • gender
  • religion
  • witness statements
  • alleged behaviours and licensing details

It may also include; photographs, biometrics or video footage.

State Government and the Information Privacy Principles Instruction

South Australian Government agencies manage privacy and personal information in line with the Information Privacy Principles Instruction.

State Government agencies are required to comply with the Information Privacy Principles Instruction (IPPI). The IPPI regulates the way State Government agencies can; collect use, store and disclose personal information. The IPPs also include a right for an individual to access and amend their own personal information via the Freedom of Information Act 1991.

The principal officer, or Chief Executive, of each agency is required to ensure the IPPI is implemented, maintained and observed in respect to the personal information the agency collects or holds.  The policy that outlines the agencies how personal information is managed within the agency should be made available to the public.

Local Government authorities and South Australian Universities are not covered by either the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1998 or the IPPI.

Enquiries regarding Local Government authorities or South Australian Universities should be made directly to the organisation.

The Commonwealth Privacy Act 1998, protects the privacy of an individual's information where it relates to:

  • Commonwealth agencies and
  • private businesses (including not-for-profit organisations) with a turnover of more than $3 million.

Privacy enquiries about the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988, should be directed to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner on 1300 363 992.

Although no specific state privacy legislation exists, other South Australian legislation protects elements of privacy, including:

Page last updated: 28 September 2022