NSWCCL has consistently voiced concerns about the potential for misuse of location data, collected by everyone from telecommunications companies to Google. In our recent submission to the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee we note that due care should be taken in widening law enforcement's access to personal data.
The stated aim of the proposed ammendments to the Bill are to provide police with greater access to location data from phone companies to find missing people at risk of harm. NSWCCL agrees that the timely provision of information to law enforcement is critical to ensuring the safety of vulnerable and at-risk individuals. However, we argue that the current legislation allows disclosure of such information, under section 287 of the act, if emergency services believe “on reasonable grounds that the disclosure or use is reasonably necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the life or health of a person”. We do not agree that the appropriate balance between information privacy and the free flow of information has been achieved in the Bill.
NSWCCL believes the proposed amendments are gratuitous and/or do not provide adequate privacy safeguards to individuals whose records are held by carriage service providers. While NSWCCL understands the purported objectives of the Bill, there may be serious consequences from increasing access to sensitive digital information, particularly without significantly increasing privacy safeguards. Those that may be affected by reduced privacy protections include vulnerable persons such as domestic violence victims or First Nations people who may have good reason, for example, for not wanting to be found.
Therefore, our submission recommends that no amendments should be made to the Act without a strong regime of privacy protection in place to ensure that police and other agencies properly protect personal information.
For more information, read our full submission.