Information sharing in the public sector refers to the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information. It can take place between or within government organisations, and can occur on a systematic or ad hoc basis.
Information sharing can result in many benefits to the Victorian public sector, such as greater efficiencies for organisations, improved service delivery, and the promotion of trust and confidence in government. However, it is vital that information sharing is done responsibly and appropriately to protect individuals’ privacy rights.
Information privacy law is not a barrier to information sharing. Rather, it places important limitations around the circumstances in which personal information can be shared, and with whom it can be shared.
The Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (PDP Act) supports information sharing where there is a legitimate purpose. It contains mechanisms and provisions that permit public sector organisations to share personal information lawfully. For example, Information Privacy Principle 2 (Use and Disclosure) holds that personal information should only be used for the primary purpose for which it was collected, however it also contains eight exceptions that enable organisations to use and disclose personal information in other circumstances for a secondary purpose.
As part of the process of determining whether or not to share information, organisations should first consider their enabling legislation, which may provide the legal authority for the collection, use, or disclosure of particular types of information (including personal information). If an organisation’s enabling legislation is silent on these matters, then the provisions of the PDP Act will apply.
For more information on responsible information sharing in the Victorian public sector, please refer to the Guidelines for sharing personal information.