We recently discussed amendments to the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) (PPIP Act) that sought to clarify obligations of public sector agencies in New South Wales with respect to disclosure of personal information outside of New South Wales. It appears as though New South Wales Parliament’s attention is now clearly focused on issues pertaining to privacy, as a further amendment is now proposed.
On Thursday, 17 March 2016, Shadow Attorney-General Paul Lynch introduced a bill in the Legislative Assembly seeking to amend the PIPP Act to cover State-owned corporations. As the PIPP Act is currently drafted, State-owned corporations (such as, for example, energy and utilities companies) are excluded from the definition of ‘public sector agencies’ and therefore do not come within the ambit of the PIPP Act.
When the PIPP Act was first bought into force, State-owned corporations were intentionally excluded in order to create a level playing field between State-owned corporations and private sector companies (who are not subject to the PIPP Act). Given amendments in recent years to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), which govern private sector companies, it is argued that this rationale no longer holds true.
The proposed amendments provide that State-owned corporations that are not subject to the Privacy Act 1988(Cth) will now be included within the definition of ‘public sector agency’ under the PIPP Act (and therefore be subject to the PIPP Act).
It is important to note that State-owned corporations such as Essential Energy, Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy will still not be included within the definition of ‘public sector agency’ because, by virtue of the Privacy Regulation 2013, they are prescribed as being subject to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).
NSW Parliament is set to continue its debate of the proposed amendments in the coming days and we will keep you up-to-date on any developments.