Vehicle history reports causing privacy issues for motor vehicle dealers

Feb 10, 2021

As a motor vehicle dealer, how should you manage personal information contained in a vehicle history report?

If you operate a motor vehicle dealership, you may be asked by an existing or potential customer to provide them with a vehicle history report of a second hand vehicle they have purchased, or are planning on purchasing, from your business. This might seem like a reasonable request but it is important that you understand your legal obligations in respect of that information, before you go ahead and disclose it.

Whether or not you can disclose the totality of a vehicle history report to a customer is dependent on whether the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act) applies to your business (i.e. because it has an annual turnover of more than $3 million) and if it does, whether the vehicle history report contains any ‘personal information’ about an individual.

Under the Privacy Act, ‘personal information’ refers to “information or an opinion about an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable: whether the information or opinion is true or not; and whether the information or opinion is recorded in a material form or not.” This could include such information as an individual’s name, address, date of birth, signature, drivers licence number, and so on.

Generally, if your business does have an annual turnover of more than $3 million and you do receive personal information about an individual in the course of obtaining a vehicle history report, you would be able to provide your customer or potential customer (as the case may be) with the vehicle history report provided that the information contained in it has been de-identified.

This will of course depend on the particular circumstances under which you obtained the information. So, if you are unsure whether a vehicle history report you have obtained contains personal information or whether you are permitted to disclose that information, the KKI Commercial Team is here to help.