Sometimes a business may be asked by a potential customer or a customer who has already purchased a second hand vehicle if the vehicle has been previously serviced with the business or if they can provide a vehicle history report.
When being asked these questions it is important that a business understands their Privacy Law obligations regarding the release of information.
The main pieces of legislation that govern privacy law in Australia are the Privacy Act and the Australian Privacy Principles. Neither of these specifically mentions or deals with the disclosure of vehicle information, history etc.
The Privacy Act and Australian Privacy Principles however do regulate the disclosure of personal information.
This means it will come down to whether what is being disclosed in a vehicle history report or when giving information about whether a vehicle has been serviced before could disclose personal information.
What can constitute personal information includes:
- Information or opinion about an individual’s racial or ethnic origin, political opinion, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or criminal record;
- health information;
- credit information; and
- employee record information
The above however is not an exhaustive list and personal information can extend to any information or opinion about someone from which they can be reasonably identified e.g. work activities.
If it would reasonably be expected that personal information would be disclosed by a business or the person the information relates to has been notified that this information may be passed on to someone else for a particular purpose and they agree, personal information can be disclosed. If this is not done then personal information cannot be disclosed.
Ultimately, so long as you do not disclose anything that can give away or infer any information about the previous owner this would be unlikely to constitute giving away personal information.
Where there is a risk that personal information could be disclosed, you must ask the previous owner for their permission to disclose this information. Alternatively, have something in writing when someone trades in or sells you a second hand vehicle stating that you are able to disclose the vehicle’s previous history to any subsequent purchaser.
When in doubt it always best to ask for permission from the previous owner to supply a vehicles service information/history.
If you had any queries relating to privacy law please contact the Workplace Relations Department on 8291 2000 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.