NSW Privacy Commissioner Statement on use of mobile phone data for managing the COVID-19 pandemic

The NSW Privacy Commissioner, Ms Samantha Gavel, has issued the following statement about the use of aggregated mobile phone data to assist in the NSW Government COVID-19 response: 

  1. I am aware of the provision of data by Vodafone to the Department of Customer Service to assist with managing the current COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. As a private company, Vodafone’s privacy obligations are set out in Commonwealth legislation and regulated by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).
  3. My responsibility as NSW Privacy Commissioner is to provide advice and assistance to public sector agencies in adopting and complying with the NSW privacy legislation.
  4. Staff of the IPC have contacted the Department of Customer Service regarding the data provided by Vodafone to make further enquiries but I am not, conducting an investigation.
  5. The Department of Customer Service has confirmed the data received is de-identified, highly aggregated data that contains information on numbers of subscribers in areas of NSW. The data does not contain any data on individual subscribers. The data will be used for the COVID-19 Data Program which is supporting the NSW Government’s COVID-19 response.
  6. As NSW Privacy Commissioner I appreciate that individuals, organisations and government are facing significant challenges to stop the spread of COVID-19. The collection and use of personal information is part of addressing this public health crisis and I will continue to engage with and support NSW agencies to comply with NSW privacy legislation as they respond to this unprecedented health crisis.

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

IPC media team on 0435 961 691 or email ccadigital@ipc.nsw.gov.au

About the Information and Privacy Commission:
The Information and Privacy Commission NSW (IPC) is an independent statutory authority that administers New South Wales’ legislation dealing with privacy and access to government information. The IPC supports the Information Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner in fulfilling their legislative responsibilities and functions and to ensure individuals and agencies can access consistent information, guidance and coordinated training about information access and privacy matters.

About the NSW Privacy Commissioner
Samantha Gavel was appointed as NSW Privacy Commissioner on 4 September 2017. Her role is to promote public awareness and understanding of privacy rights in NSW, as well as provide information, support, advice and assistance to agencies and the general public.

For further information about the IPC visit our website at www.ipc.nsw.gov.au