What is privacy?
The word 'privacy' means different things to different people. Your idea of privacy is likely to be different from the ideas of your family and friends.
Types of privacy
The type of privacy covered by the Privacy Act and our Office is the protection of people's personal information (see below). See Privacy Act snapshot for further information.
However, this is just one aspect of privacy. Other types of privacy can include territorial privacy and physical or bodily privacy and privacy of your communications.
This Office generally handles privacy issues which involve a person's personal information. This can include privacy issues associated with information about your location, your health and body and your communications with others.
What is personal information?
Personal information is information that identifies you or could identify you. There are some obvious examples of personal information, such as your name or address. Personal information can also include medical records, bank account details, photos, videos, and even information about what you like, your opinions and where you work - basically, any information where you are reasonably identifiable.
Information does not have to include your name to be personal information. For example, in some cases, your date of birth and post code may be enough to identify you.
To be precise, the Privacy Act definition of personal information is:
"... information or an opinion (including information or an opinion forming part of a database), whether true or not, and whether recorded in a material form or not, about an individual whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained, from the information or opinion."
What privacy is not
The protection of your personal information privacy is different to other related concepts such as:
- freedom of information.
However, there can be some cross-over. If you are in doubt, please call our Privacy Enquiries Line.