Privacy violation of AEC handing over voter data to the ABS for a Marriage Poll?

2.2 Use and disclosure of personal information

The AEC collects and holds personal information for the purpose of carrying out its functions and activities. In some cases, the AEC may use or disclose personal information for a purpose other than that for which it was collected, but we will not give your personal information to other government agencies, private sector organisations, or anyone else unless you consent or one of the following exceptions applies:

  • you would reasonably expect us to use the information for that other purpose
  • it is legally required or authorised, such as by an Australian law, or court or tribunal order. This includes express statutory provisions, as well as the more general application of the common law and the exercise of the Executive authority of an Australian government [Does the Executive even have this specific authority to compel AEC to hand over voting data for statistical purpose?]
  • we reasonably believe that it is necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to the life, health or safety of any individual, or to public health or safety
  • we have reason to suspect that unlawful activity, or misconduct of a serious nature, that relates to our functions or activities has been, is being or may be engaged in and we reasonably believe that it is necessary in order for us to take appropriate action in relation to the matter.
    The Electoral Act prohibits the disclosure of information about one person to another person except in limited, specified circumstances.

The Electoral Act provides for public inspection of the Commonwealth electoral Roll.

The Electoral Act also provides for lawful disclosure of electoral Roll information to a range of organisations but it also precludes any further use or disclosure of that personal information for other than a permitted purpose.

Access to personal information by third parties including requests by authorised representatives of an individual is only permitted when there is a specific authorisation that refers to the particular information in the possession of the AEC.

There is nothing in the Electoral Act that authorises the recipient of a power of attorney to do anything that an elector is required to do merely by virtue of holding that power of attorney. Accordingly the AEC will not disclose personal information in the absence of a specific authorisation even where a power of attorney has been given.

Maybe this is something that we should be making a Hoo Har about? Formal submission to the Privacy Commissioner? I have not seen anything in the media about Privacy.

I am not a lawyer so from my laymen analysis of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, I can’t see what would authorise the AEC to hand out the Postal Addresses to the ABS in the first place.

Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, 90B, Subsection 10 it seems that Postal Address is considered “additional information” and 90B (2) doesn’t authorise the “additional information” to be given to other Government Departments (only MPs/Political Parties).

Then 91A & 91B has various restrictions on not being able to disclose that data.

The only thing that might vaguely allow a Politician/Party to hand over the AEC data to the ABS is “research regarding electoral matters”. Is this marriage poll considered “research regarding electoral matters”?

They could argue that they need the information to poll opinions for the next election… but they are not claiming that presently and supposedly the outcome is to be taken into consideration right now (if if they did wait until the election, this would defeat the supposed purpose of this poll).

After a closer look it appears to be frighteningly legal under the guise of “statistical information” despite not being a statistic which ABS would gather.

But $122 million… How in the world could an opinion poll even cost that much… And the result will be pointless ether way (in both outcomes the current government will delay change for as long as possible)