As a business owner, you’re responsible for protecting your customers’ personal information – it’s the law. Find out what type of customer information is personal and how to protect it.
Laws around customer information
As a business owner, you may be required under the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) to protect your customers’ personal information from:
- unauthorised access
When you no longer need your customers’ personal information you must destroy or de-identify it. This includes shredding documents or storing them in a secure area.
1. Check if your business needs to comply
If your business has an annual turnover of more than $3 million, you must comply with the Privacy Act.
If your business has an annual turnover of $3 million or less, you may still be required to comply with the Privacy Act depending on your business type and what you do within your business. For example, you will still be required to comply if you’re a:
- private sector health service provider, including complementary therapists, gyms, weight loss clinics, child care centres and private education providers
- business that sells or purchases personal information
- contractor providing services under a contract with the Australian Government
- credit provider/credit reporting body
- residential tenancy database operator.
2. Decide what information is personal
Personal information is any information where you can identify (or reasonably identify) an individual. It doesn’t matter if the information is true, or what form it’s in.
Personal information might include your customers’:
- address, email, telephone number, date of birth
- medical records
- bank details
- photos and videos
- IP address
- opinions which can be used to identify them.
3. Find out how to protect personal information
If the Privacy Act covers your business, you need to comply with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs). These outline how you must handle, use and manage personal information. It’s a good idea to check the APPs and the APP guidelines – they’ll help you understand what your responsibilities are.
Even if the Privacy Act doesn’t cover your business, it’s important to handle your customers’ personal information appropriately.
5. Report notifiable breaches
If your business is covered by the Privacy Act, then you will need to comply with the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme. If a data breach involves personal information and is likely to cause serious harm to an individual, you need to notify both the:
- individual involved
- Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).
For more information visit www.business.gov.au