Why transparency is a good thing

In recent years we’ve seen a spate of high-profile privacy incidents hit the media. Notorious examples abound: organisations passing on personal information to police and government agencies without reasonable grounds for doing so, huge data breaches (think Ashley Madison or Yahoo!), and instances of employees inappropriately accessing customer records. Intuitively we recognise that if an organisation is unable to assure its customers that their information is safe, people’s trust in it will be eroded.

But where does transparency fit in and what does it mean? If you ever hear a person described as being “transparent”, chances are it isn’t a compliment. When it comes to privacy however, being transparent is definitely a good thing. It’s about being upfront, open and honest regarding what you’re doing with personal information, and being accountable for keeping it secure. For Sovereign, it means ensuring we are responsible custodians of customer data for the duration of the time we hold it.

When I began working here, I quickly came to understand just how sensitive some of the information we hold is – medical records being just one example. Thankfully, I’m happy to report that Sovereign takes its’ obligations to protect your privacy seriously. We know that the relationship we have with you is built on a foundation of trust, so let’s put our cards on the table and be transparent about a few things:

  • Our Privacy Policy outlines how we collect, use, disclose and protect your information;
  • You have the right to request access to a copy of all the information we hold about you;
  • Sovereign has a team which specialises in responding to Privacy Act requests made by individuals, as well as requests for personal information made by the police and other government agencies;
  • We won’t release your personal information to the police or a government agency without your consent unless required by court order or legislation, or we believe there are reasonable grounds for doing so (such as where there is a serious threat to your safety or the safety of others); and
  • If we consider a government agency is asking for more information than necessary, we’ll push back and ask them to explain why before making a decision on the request.

So next time you wonder what we’re doing with the information we hold about you – just ask. We’ll be happy to tell you.

Let us know if there are more privacy and data issues you would like our Privacy Specialist Tony Collins to cover in future blogs.

Author: Tony Collins

As a member of Sovereign’s Resolution and Privacy team, I consider myself privileged to play a key part in ‘being the difference in life’s moments of truth’. I believe that ensuring privacy is protected and respected should be about more than just complying with the law – it involves balancing a number of competing rights, responsibilities and obligations, and then making a decision on what is appropriate in a particular set of circumstances. With a background in privacy, investigations and dispute resolution, I am passionate about providing unbiased advice and working toward fair outcomes.

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