As an Australian Government department, the ABS must comply with the Privacy Act 1988 and the associated Information Privacy Principles, which govern the way personal information should be collected, stored, used and disclosed. These obligations cover information about staff, clients and respondents. They are in addition to the protection of confidentiality of data provided by respondents from the Census and Statistics Act 1905 (for more information see chapter 10).
The ABS has a privacy officer who advises on privacy issues internally, providing the perspective of a privacy advocate, and monitors the external environment to keep up to date on privacy issues that could impact upon ABS operations.
The ABS maintains a close relationship with the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner (OFPC), advising the Commissioner regularly of the ABS forward work program, attending OFPC quarterly privacy officer network meetings, and seeking advice on any new ABS initiatives about which privacy advocates may have concerns. Every year the ABS contributes to the Commissioner's Personal Information Digest, which is published to inform the general public of the types of personal information that government departments hold.
In May 2006, the Australian Statistician presented papers on the 2006 Census of Population and Housing and the National Data Network to a meeting of the Australian Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA). The APPA group includes the Federal Privacy Commissioner, State and Territory Commissioners and representatives from New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and Hong Kong privacy organisations. This was a valuable opportunity to increase awareness on all sides.