When it comes to sharing health information online, it’s not just a matter of convenience.
It’s a matter for human rights, as well.
Greyhound, the national dog and buggy company that has been in Australia for 50 years, is the subject of a landmark lawsuit by the Australian Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The complaint alleges the company and its owners, the National Wagga Wagga Group (NWG), unlawfully obtained and unlawfully retained a wide range of health and safety information, including medical records, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, health insurance information and more, without reasonable and articulable suspicion that it would be used to harass or discriminate against an employee or other person.
The lawsuit alleges the information was obtained from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and is now the subject to a Federal Court order which prohibits Greyhound from sharing that information with third parties.
The case was filed on behalf of a woman named Jane who has been employed at Greyhound since 2008.
She was informed in July 2016 that Greyhound was seeking to transfer her health information from the ATO to the National WAGGA Wagga Trust (NWT) as part of its acquisition of Wagga-owned Wagga.
Jane alleges she had no right to the information and, therefore, is entitled to an order prohibiting Greyhound’s collection, use, disclosure and retention of that information.
The suit says Greyhound has failed to comply with its obligations under the federal Fair Work Act and, as a result, Jane is entitled “to a remedy under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1979”.
“The ATO has a legal duty to inform consumers of the existence of any data subject’s privacy rights,” the complaint says.
“Greyhound has engaged in this conduct, and the company has breached its legal duty by failing to do so.”
The suit alleges Greyhound is in breach of the Fair Work (Regulation of Independent Agencies) Act and the Fair Labor and Services Act.
Greyhill, the Australian Wagga WAGG group which owns Greyhound, also failed to provide Jane with an opportunity to challenge the ATOs claims, it alleges.
Jane said Greyhound provided her with a letter dated June 20, 2016, saying it had no legal obligation to inform her of her rights.
Jane was “satisfied” with that reply and was given a further copy of the letter the next day.
“They said, ‘We have this in the mail.
Just give us your number’,” she said.”
I said, I don’t have any other choice but to go ahead and call the ATOB [Australian Taxation office].”
She said she was “not really satisfied” about the response.
“It’s not really clear to me what’s going on, because they have no contact with me,” she said, “I just call them, and they don’t give me a response, which is not really satisfactory.”
Jane said she has been unable to find the phone number for Greyhound to discuss the matter with.
The company says it has no knowledge of any concerns that Jane has and has no reason to believe that the information could be used in the manner alleged.
Jane has not filed a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and the lawsuit is not yet active.
Greyhounds spokesperson Dan Tudge said the company was committed to the highest standards of privacy and was disappointed in the outcome of the matter.
“The complaint was resolved in an informal meeting between Jane and Greyhound management in May 2016, and in the course of that meeting, Jane’s concerns were appropriately addressed,” he said.
The Greens’ candidate for the Senate in Western Australia, Peter Whish-Wilson, said the outcome should have been “very different”.
“This is the kind of information that is really of concern to the Australian public,” he told ABC Radio Perth.
“If the public are concerned about it, the Greens would be calling for it to be made available to the public and they would have a role in making that happen.”
The Greens say they are concerned by Greyhound data collection and will be calling on the Federal Government to stop it.
“As the Greens, we would urge the Federal government to make sure that the public have the right to know the identity of their confidential data,” Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said.
He said he was not aware of any complaints against Greyhound in the past, and that his party would not be joining the case.
Topics:law-crime-and-justice,privacy-policy,internet-technology,consumer-protection,community-and‑society,health,wagga-2750,australiaContact: Kate Broughton, [email protected], 0403 989 735Topics:human-interest,human-rights,law-enforcement,government-and_politics,justice-and–