eLaw Journal: Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law, Vol 17, No 1 (2010)

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The Conceptual Basis of Statutory Constructions of Personal Information in Australian Privacy Laws

Mark Burdon, Paul Telford


Australian privacy law regulates how government agencies and private sector organisations collect, store and use personal information. A coherent conceptual basis of personal information is an integral requirement of information privacy law as it determines what information is regulated. A 2004 report conducted on behalf of the UK’s Information Commissioner (the Booth Report) concluded that there was no coherent definition of personal information currently in operation because different data protection authorities throughout the world conceived the concept of personal information in different ways. The authors adopt the conceptual models developed by the Booth Report to examine the conceptual basis of statutory definitions of personal information in Australian privacy laws. Research findings indicate that the definition of personal information is not construed uniformly in Australian privacy laws because different definitions rely upon dissimilar conceptual understandings of how to classify personal information.

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