Tick for council but could do better on privacy and information

THE Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) last week tabled an audit report in the Queensland Parliament assessing Sunshine Coast Council’s compliance with the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) and the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld).

The results were mostly encouraging but some areas of concern were identified.

OIC found that, although the council is committed to proactive disclosure and continuous improvement, significant gaps in information governance at the strategic and operational levels mean that its practices are not always consistent with the Acts.

Information Commissioner Rachael Rangihaeata made 22 recommendations in the report, which the council supports, and the OIC will monitor the council’s progress.

“I am pleased to see that the council took ownership of its information management practices and compliance by commissioning a review and developing a road map to improve how it governs and manages information,” Ms Rangihaeata said.

Specifically, Ms Rangihaeata said that the finding will ensure that the council through “its policies and procedures, facilitates a coordinated and consistent approach for releasing or publishing information”.

Of key concern is the finding that the council does not always give the community complete advice about right to information and information privacy, and lacks detailed policies and clear leadership to govern the effective operation and management of all its surveillance technologies.

The council has not yet embedded privacy impact assessments into its core business, with the OIC suggesting the council cannot be sure it has identified and effectively mitigated the privacy risks of its activities or projects.

Consequently, it was established that council had limited performance measures for monitoring progress in achieving the broader objectives of the Acts.

“Implementation of the audit recommendations will improve right to information and privacy practices and outcomes for the community,” Ms Rangihaeata said.

“The council will build trust through greater transparency as a result.”

To read the report, go to the Office of the Information Commissioner website.