The biggest Privacy Act mistake you need to avoid

Oh, no! You don’t comply with the Privacy Act as you have been told you don’t need to, but you have fallen into the biggest privacy trap out there. 

With Privacy Awareness Week upon us (May 3-9), now is the perfect time to get your privacy in order so you don’t get caught with a sizeable fine. 

As we all probably know, if your revenue is more than $3 million a year, you need to comply with the privacy laws – that’s easy. 

But did you know that even if your agency doesn’t make that much, if you have a residential property management department then you signed up, without knowing it, and have promised to comply with the Privacy Act? 

Huh? Let us explain.

Surely I didn’t voluntarily opt in to comply with the privacy laws?

OK, so if you have a residential PM business, then chances are you use a large residential tenancy database.

The Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) are the nuts and bolts of the privacy laws in Australia – and you have promised that you comply with the privacy laws when handling personal information. 

So, why do they make you agree to this? In short, the Privacy Commissioner slammed databases for how they dealt with personal information. 

If they get complaints or claims against them in relation to personal information that you provided to them (or received from them) and you haven’t complied with the APPs, they could point to you and you could potentially become liable for any fines, claims or compensation.

What does this mean for your agency?

  • It means you have likely made a contractual promise to a database operator that you will treat personal information as if you were subject to the Privacy Act. 
  • It means the database operator is indemnified if you don’t comply with the APPs. Your agency could be liable for any penalties and to cover legal costs of the database operator if a complaint is made about them due to your breach.
  • It means you need to be Privacy Prepared. If you thought the APPs didn’t apply to your agency you should review your practices now. You may need to update or rewrite procedure manuals and policies to meet APP requirements. 

Need more information? 

It’s Privacy Awareness Week.

Want to know how your agency can participate? Then join us for a free Privacy Prepared live webinar run by privacy expert and lawyer Kristen Porter from O*NO Legal on Thursday, May 6, at 10am AEST.

You’ll learn the legal tips and tricks you must know: 

  • How to avoid a $2.1 million fine (Yes, we’re serious).
  • How to assess when a data breach has occurred.
  • What to do when you need to notify your clients of the breach.
  • How to get your privacy sorted and the latest privacy ‘must haves’ for a property management business and any type of real estate agency.
  • Learn how to use a legal privacy bot to secure your business and lower your legal costs.

Register for your free seat here. Get in quick, because spaces are limited.

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Kristen Porter

Kristen Porter is a legal practitioner specialising in real estate, property management and privacy laws. She is the founding Director of O*NO Legal The Real Estate Agents' Lawyer.