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Sunday, June 03, 2007

No privacy problem in reporting the smoking chef

Matthew Moore in last Thursday's Sydney Morning Herald traced the long and arduous NSW Freedom of Information battle to bring attention to the public health problems in our restaurants, but in a delicious irony, the handling of personal information submitted to a council by a contracted food inspector in Victoria, prompted a claim of breach of privacy.

This case note (28 May 2007) by the Victorian Privacy Commissioner reveals the inspector told the council about the chef and the manager smoking in the restaurant in contravention of the law. When the restaurant was brought before the court for unrelated food hygiene breaches, his letter was part of the proceedings. The inspector (unsuccessfully) claimed that the council had failed to tell him how it proposed to use the information and that its use in these proceedings was contrary to privacy principles. The Privacy Commissioner and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal both found in favour of the council.

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