Personal information, Connected Automated Vehicles and the 2017 Federal Court decision, Privacy Commissioner v Telstra

Nicholas Camac, Tania Leiman

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    Austroads’ 2017 Privacy Impact Assessment for Cooperative Intelligent Transport System (C-ITS) Data Messages (current as at July 2016) considered whether data produced by C-ITS would be ‘personal information’ for the purposes of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), and notes the relevance to C-ITS of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s published guideline that ‘where it is unclear whether an individual is “reasonable identifiable”, an organisation should err on the side of caution and treat the information as personal information’. It concludes that data messages in C-ITS should be treated as ‘personal information’.

    In January 2017, the Federal Court handed down its decision Privacy Commissioner v Telstra Corporation Limited, confining the right by individuals to access their personal information only to information ‘about an individual’. The court noted that ‘even if a single piece of information is not “about an individual” it might be about the individual when combined with other information.’

    While data generated through C-ITS may be unlikely in its raw form to be considered ‘personal information’, data mining and matching techniques already allow even anonymized depersonalized data to be collated to build a profile of a recognizable specific individual. This is likely to pose significant challenges to the effectiveness of the existing privacy protection regime under the Privacy Act. This Australian approach can be contrasted with that of other jurisdictions including the UK’s Data Protection Act 1998 which defines ‘data’ as ‘data which relates to a living individual who can be identified (a) from the data; or (b) from those data and other information which is in the possession of or is likely to come into the possession of the data controller.’

    This presentation will explore these risks to privacy from the generation of C-ITS data, and make recommendations about possibilities for future reform in this area.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017
    Event2nd International Driverless Vehicle Summit: Translating technology to real-world deployment - Adelaide Convention Centre, Adelaide, Australia
    Duration: 15 Nov 201717 Nov 2017


    Conference2nd International Driverless Vehicle Summit
    OtherThe Australia and New Zealand Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI) invites you to attend and gain access to global thought leadership on the subject of driverless vehicles, and their safe implementation onto our road network.

    At the ‘Translating technology to real-world deployment’ themed event, you will learn about current ADVI activities from an array of prominent ADVI partners and other national and international experts.

    This international event will provide an update on the Australia and New Zealand Driverless Vehicle Initiative AND access to global thought leadership.


    • Automated Vehicles
    • Driverless cars
    • Privacy
    • personal autonomy


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