Survey shows NSW agencies need to raise young people’s awareness of privacy rights

By Shannon Jenkins

May 6, 2020

“Survey says!” — “No young person has the faintest idea what this picture has to do with anything, nor what their data privacy rights are.”

Young people in New South Wales are less aware of their privacy rights than other age groups, the state privacy commissioner’s latest survey of community attitudes has found.

The research showed only 37% of respondents under the age of 25 were aware of their right to lodge a complaint or seek a review with state government departments.

Privacy commissioner Samantha Gavel noted awareness of her role varied across age groups, with those over 55 having the greatest awareness and those under 25 the least.

She said that while many respondents were unsure of where to go to access their personal information held by NSW agencies, the survey found some positives.

“It is encouraging to note that similar to previous years, over one in three respondents are aware of their right to access personal information from at least one of the NSW agencies listed, with many saying that they would contact the agency directly for help,” she said.

“The vast majority of respondents felt that NSW government agencies protecting their information was important and most were concerned about breaches or misuse of data currently held by NSW government agencies.”

The survey also found that 63% of respondents were aware of their right to lodge a complaint or seek a review with an agency if they felt their privacy had been breached.

Of those who had lodged a privacy complaint in the past year, 86% said they were happy with the outcome.

When questioned on breaches or misuse of information, respondents were most concerned about deliberate hacking of NSW government systems, and least concerned about accidental release of personal information.

Nearly a quarter of respondents were unsure of how to access their personal information under privacy laws, or how to report misuse.

Nearly all respondents (95%) thought it was important that NSW government agencies protect their personal and health information.

Gavel said agencies must consider how they collect, use and disclose personal and health information.

“This includes the handling of personal information of employees and employees’ family members, visitors to agency premises, as well as individuals to whom the agency provides services and members of the general public,” she said.

“As NSW privacy commissioner I will be working with agencies to assist them explain to the community their right to access their personal information and what actions they can take if they feel their rights have been breached.”

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