NSW agencies urged to consider good privacy in customer service

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NSW agencies urged to consider good privacy in customer service

State Privacy Commissioner talks up trust.

NSW privacy commissioner Dr Elizabeth Coombs wants the state’s government agencies to realise that good privacy is critical to good customer service.

The customer service mantra has been central to the NSW Government’s agenda, especially since it overhauled front of house transaction services into the ‘one-stop-shop’ Service NSW model.

But into the future, the transformations will rely more and more on data sharing between agencies to enable seamless transactions.

The NSW Government is also pushing ahead with plans to leverage data analytics to improve how it does business, putting a government-wide ‘data broker’ on its wish list.

But Coombs stressed that for an agency to take advantage of the customer information it holds, the customer must first place their trust in the agency’s ability to protect it.

She told iTnews this week that good privacy was “an incredible asset".

“If you manage it well, it works for you," she said.

“If you are building a positive reputation and gaining the trust and the buy-in from service users, then you can use that goodwill going forward.

“When people don’t trust an organisation they tend to give incomplete or inaccurate information."

In order to embed good privacy practices within the heart of the NSW public sector, Coombs and the NSW Information and Privacy Commission this week launched a Privacy Governance Framework designed to guide agency executives and privacy professionals on how they can not only comply with privacy law, but also start building data protection into their organisation.

The framework consolidates all the legislation and advice governing data use and protection in the NSW Government and health sectors, and organises it according to each stage of the privacy lifecycle from governance through to responding to complaints.

Coombs advised commercial and public sector agencies that if they wanted people to "keep giving you information, and you want it to be accurate and reliable for your purposes - don’t creep them out”.

She said a recent survey conducted by the NSW IPC showed that members of the public found it particularly unsettling when information they handed over for one purpose popped up elsewhere in their life.

The NSW IPC is pushing the message that agencies “can gain benefit back from being very upfront about privacy protection - by making it a corporate priority and communicating that priority”.

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