Australia: Queensland privacy law reform on the horizon

In late 2017, the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General released a report flagging its recommendations for changes to Queensland privacy laws.

While legislation has not yet been introduced to give effect to the recommendations, it is worth understanding the trajectory of the law to accommodate potential changes in current and future privacy practices and contracting arrangements.

The report comes almost 10 months after the government announced it was reviewing the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IP Act) and the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI Act). Our publication on that review and the corresponding consultation paper is available here. The report makes 23 recommendations for amendments to the IP Act and the RTI Act.

In relation to reviewing the IP Act, the report grappled with three sets of privacy principles – the Commonwealth Australian Privacy Principles (APPs), the Queensland National Privacy Principles (NPPs) which apply to Queensland health agencies, and the Queensland Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) which apply to non-health Queensland agencies.


The report makes several recommendations in relation to the IP Act which, if passed in legislation, will change the way entities bound by the IP Act may deal with personal information. Some of those key changes are summarised as follows:

  1. Subcontracted service providers

Previously, the IP Act only required Queensland agencies to ensure that their contracted service providers complied with the IP Act. The review recommends that Queensland agencies be under a similar obligation in relation to their subcontractors.

What does this mean for Queensland agencies? Queensland agencies will need to update template contracts for subcontracting arrangements to ensure that those contracts contain robust terms requiring the subcontractor to comply with the IP Act.

  1. Access to personal information

Presently, an individual has rights to access personal information under both the IP Act and the RTI Act. The legislation recommends simplifying these access rights by locating them in the RTI Act only. Interestingly, this will mean that Queensland's privacy principles would differ from the APPs, which contain access rights.

What does this mean for Queensland agencies? Queensland agencies will only have one regime for personal information requests. The agency's RTI team will need to be across amendments to the RTI Act, which will incorporate provisions regarding personal information access and correction requests.

  1. Definition of personal information

The Commonwealth and Queensland definitions of personal information deviated when the Commonwealth definition was updated, but the Queensland definition was retained. The report recommends adopting the Commonwealth definition for consistency. Queensland's Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) submitted that such a change would not significantly change the scope of what is considered to be personal information.

What does this mean for Queensland agencies? Agencies will need to update the definition of personal information in their privacy documentation and template contracts. If required, agencies may also be able to consult Commonwealth guidance about the scope of the definition.

Going forward, agencies may wish to define personal information in their contracts by reference to the IP Act, so that if the definition changes in that Act, the definition changes for the purposes of the contract.

  1. Data 'transfer' and 'disclosure'

Currently, the IP Act regulates overseas 'transfer' of information, whereas the Privacy Act regulates overseas 'disclosure'. While the relevant regulators appear to adopt the view that the words have similar meanings in practice (e.g. they exclude the mere routing of information through an overseas jurisdiction), there is a risk that 'transfer' has a broader meaning than 'disclosure'.

There was strong support from consultation respondents to adopt the word 'disclosure', particularly as that term is defined in the IP Act.

What does this mean for Queensland agencies? As well as making relevant documentation changes, Queensland agencies should be prepared to assess which of its practices are 'disclosures' of personal information overseas, enlivening the offshoring provisions of the IP Act.

  1. Investigation by the Office of the Information Commissioner

While the review noted that that the OIC potentially already has the power to conduct 'own motion' investigations into agencies' practices, it suggested that such a power should be expressly set out in the IP Act.

What does this mean for Queensland agencies? Queensland agencies should prepare for investigations conducted by the OIC in the absence of a particular privacy complaint.

Agencies should be prepared for investigation by having a detailed and up-to-date understanding of the agency's information collection and handling practices, as well as ensuring all relevant compliance material is updated and readily available.

  1. Reasonable steps to protect personal information

Currently, Queensland agencies subject to the IPPs have an absolute obligation to ensure that personal information is not lost, subjected to unauthorised access or disclosure, or misused. The report recommends adopting the equivalent NPP (and Commonwealth APP position) which requires the agency to take 'reasonable steps' to protect against such loss and misuse.

What does this mean for Queensland agencies? In practice, Queensland agencies must continue their practices to keep personal information secure. Such a change will mean data breach events which occur despite the agency taking reasonable steps will no longer be a breach of IPP 4.

  1. Disclosure between health agencies

The report recommends that for the purpose of the IP Act, Queensland Health and the Hospital and Health Services are treated as one entity, so that disclosures between them (including through information sharing platforms) are not governed by the disclosure obligations in the NPPs.


It is anticipated that legislation will be introduced into Parliament to give effect to the recommended changes. Queensland agencies should be prepared to amend their privacy compliance documentation and template contracts to account for the changes (especially definition and terminology changes).

However, further changes are flagged.

The report recommends further consultation on the merits of a single set of privacy principles. It also notes that such a change (which would be a significant change for many or all agencies) would be most effective if adopted by other States and Territories.

The OIC has indicated that it is in favour of a mandatory data breach notification scheme, which would require Queensland agencies to notify affected individuals about data breaches. While it is not yet proposed to be enacted, agencies should be prepared to consider what such a regime would mean for their information management practices.

Further, the Queensland Law Reform Commission is now investigating civil surveillance and privacy laws (report due 1 July 2019) and workplace surveillance laws (report due 30 June 2020). Agencies should look for opportunities to make submissions on these laws so they can have input into any further changes that may be recommended.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Chambers Asia Pacific Awards 2016 Winner – Australia
Client Service Award
Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (WGEA)

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions