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As part of Privacy Awareness Week (PAW), the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) is reminding public servants of their responsibility to adhere to privacy and other laws when dealing with confidential and personal information.  

PAW is an initiative of the Office of the Information Commissioner and runs from 4-10 May. The 2020 theme is ‘Be smart about privacy’. Improper access and disclosure of confidential information has been an area of focus for the CCC for several years. 

The CCC continues to reinforce that strong privacy, information management and data security practices will help mitigate potential corruption risks, particularly those arising from flexible work arrangements during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

To coincide with PAW, the CCC has today published a guide to help public sector agencies identify and manage matters involving the suspected misuse of confidential information. 

CCC Chairperson Alan MacSporran QC said the guide was developed following the CCC’s Operation Impala public hearing which examined the improper access and dissemination of confidential information by public sector agencies.

“The assessment guide has been designed to assist the public sector strengthen their practices when dealing with breaches of confidential information, including privacy breaches,” Mr MacSporran said. 

“The guide outlines the necessary steps and considerations that should be taken when dealing with allegations of suspected misuse of confidential information.”

The CCC made 18 recommendations in its report Operation Impala – A report into misuse of confidential information in the Queensland public sector which was tabled in Parliament in February. The recommendations were designed to ensure that Queenslanders’ confidential information is less vulnerable to inappropriate access by staff of public sector agencies. One of the recommendations was to create a new criminal offence for public servants who access confidential information without a lawful reason.

Mr MacSporran said the CCC continues to receive complaints about the misuse of confidential information. 

“In the first three months of 2020, the CCC has received 195 complaints relating to the misuse of confidential information, accounting for approximately 25 per cent of the total complaints received in that period. 

“Privacy Awareness Week provides a reminder for all public sector agencies of the importance of safeguarding Queenslanders’ confidential and personal information. Information should not be accessed or disclosed without a lawful and legitimate reason for doing so,” Mr MacSporran said. 

For more information on Privacy Awareness Week visit: https://www.oic.qld.gov.au/. 

The CCC's Guide to assessing allegations about misuse of confidential information is available at: https://www.ccc.qld.gov.au/publications/ccc-guide-assessing-allegations-about-misuse-confidential-information

The CCC’s Operation Impala report is available at: https://www.ccc.qld.gov.au/public-hearings/operation-impala 

The CCC is an independent agency combating major crime and reducing corruption for the benefit of the Queensland community.

ENDS

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