Australia: Privacy obligations when collecting customer information for covid-19 ‘contact-tracing’

With restrictions easing (to varying degrees) throughout Australia in recent weeks, many businesses are now required to collect personal information from customers and visitors who attend their physical premises.

This mandated collection is designed to assist health professionals carry out COVID-19 ‘contact tracing’.

While many industries are happy to adopt this new practice to enable businesses to re-establish themselves in a fundamentally different commercial landscape, it is important not to overlook the privacy considerations attached to the collection of personal information.

Businesses who have obligations under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act) (i.e. generally organisations who have an annual turnover of more than $3 million) must continue to meet these obligations when they collect customers’ and visitors’ information. A failure to observe these obligations may expose your business to the serious risk of breaching the Privacy Act.

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