Personal information is information about who you are, what you do and what you believe. It can be information such as your name, date of birth, address or phone number, as well as other information about you such as your race, religious beliefs or even credit information. It can also include your photograph, fingerprint and even your voice print. Anything that can be used to identify you as an individual could be considered personal information.
This information is important and could place you at risk if it is not properly protected. While the privacy laws in Australia require organisations and government entities to handle your personal information in a certain way, the protection of your personal information starts with you!
Here are some simple steps you can take to create a solid foundation of good privacy habits to help protect your personal information.
Ask yourself who, why and how
Whenever you are asked to disclose your personal information, make sure you know:
- who you are disclosing your personal information to;
- why the information is being requested or required; and
- how the information will be used.
Know your rights
The Privacy Act provides you with a number of rights in relation to how organisations/agencies can handle your personal information. These rights are set out in the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) contained in the Privacy Act, and include, for example, the right to:
- remain anonymous when dealing with an organisation/agency (subject to some exceptions);
- access to personal information an organisation holds about you;
- request for the organisation to correct your personal information that it holds; and
- request not to receive direct marketing communications from the organisation.
It is important to know and understand your rights. They are there to provide you with some control over how your personal information is handled by the organisations/agencies that you disclose it to.
Develop good habits to protect your privacy
This is particularly important in relation to your online habits. Simple things like using strong passwords can help reduce the risk that your personal information will be accessed without your authorisation.
Our previous article called “Take Control of Your Privacy” provides some further great tips to develop good habits.
For more information on privacy policies and your rights, please head to https://www.oaic.gov.au/.