What does prejudice to the maintenance of the law mean?

There is an exception in the Privacy Act which allows agencies to collect, withhold, use or disclose personal information in a way which would otherwise breach the Act where necessary for the ‘maintenance of the law’.

Maintenance of the law in this context relates to law enforcement action by a public sector agency, including the prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution and punishment of offences.

Some examples of cases where the ‘maintenance of the law’ exception of the Act may apply include:

  • Police collecting information about a suspect from a third party;
  • ACC withholding information in response to a request from an individual they are currently investigating for suspected fraud; and
  • A doctor disclosing information to Police about a patient with an injury matching a description of a suspect.