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Ticking privacy time-bombs for businesses working from home
Wed 13 May 2020 - 7:50 amMedia Releases
A Melbourne lawyer is warning businesses to prepare for potential privacy issues that may already be arising from current remote working conditions.
Rigby Cooke Lawyers Senior Associate Emma Simpson said while business owners were currently focussed on doing what they could to remain afloat, a significant privacy breach could seriously impede their recovery.
“Many businesses are operating in survival mode and they may not be aware of the breaches which may currently be happening,” Ms Simpson said.
“Employees may not have thought very carefully about the privacy risks of their home-office set up – children using their devices, family members or visitors overhearing sensitive phone calls or misplaced documents due to the lack of proper storage to name a few.
“Employers are reliant on their staff ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of the information they have access to in their work.
“However, employers need to ask themselves if they have done what they can to ensure they have adequate policies and procedures in place, and their staff have been properly trained to know what it means for them.
“Do your staff understand what their obligations are under the business’ privacy policies and procedures in a remote working context?
“Ultimately, employers will bear the reputational costs of a Notifiable Data Breach, which by law must be reported to the Australian Information Commissioner and affected individuals.
“This reputational damage could prevent a business from fully recovering when the economy begins to open up again.”
Businesses with a turnover of $3 million or more, and some smaller businesses (including those which handle health and medical information), are required to comply with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and the Australian Privacy Principles.
“Whether that is in the collection of sales and marketing information, information about contractors or consultant or from a finance perspective, all of these specific concerns need to be addressed.
“Many of the clients I have worked with lack coordination between the departments of their business when it comes to privacy matters.
“Employers cannot entirely eliminate the possibility of a privacy breach.
“However, with an effective training regime, complemented by even some specific remote working policies and systems, businesses can significantly minimise the risk.
“For example, at Rigby Cooke, we have policies in place around printing and destroying hard copy documents that contain personal or confidential information, restrictions around device usage and access, an understanding around how to conduct confidential phone calls in the home environment.
“We also have regular training on cyber security and identifying and responding to data breaches.
3 steps to reduce your risk of a privacy breach
- Develop remote working policies to reinforce the privacy and confidentiality requirements of employees while working from home.