In our third issue of “Legal Questions for Every Charity and Not-For-Profit Organisation” we deal with the topic of Privacy. The update forms part of our series of short summaries of legal issues that we have noticed during the course of advising our clients are common and important to charities and not-for-profit (NFP) organisations.
Businesses including Not-for-Profit entities should review their privacy policies and procedures to ensure that they comply with the new Australian privacy principles before they commence on 14 March 2014.
The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 is the most significant privacy reform since the Privacy Act was introduced over 25 years ago. The new privacy principles will regulate the handling of personal information by businesses and Australian government agencies.
Under the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission Act 2012, certain information must be published by the Commissioner on the ACNC Register for the public to view. This information includes the entity’s name, ABN, sub-type, governing rules, details of responsible entities, information statements, financial reports or any other information the Commissioner is authorised to collect. This is very broad and in some circumstances charities may wish to apply for the information to be withheld from the ACNC Register. The Commissioner may withhold information if it is commercially sensitive or has the potential to cause detriment to the registered charity or an individual. We recommend all charities registered with the ACNC consider whether certain information should be withheld from the ACNC Register.
The scope for withholding information from the ACNC Register was widened by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Regulation 2013. Amongst other things, the Regulation offered additional privacy protections for Private Ancillary Funds (PAFs) registered as charities with the ACNC. Typically, these protections were introduced in order to protect the identity of individual philanthropists or donors and to prevent an unreasonable burden being placed on PAFs whereby they might be inundated with donation requests from other entities.