Queensland’s Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) has warned the state’s public servants that use of the Yammer private social network could potentially get them into legal hot water with the state's Privacy Act.
The office has advised government workers not to become complacent using Yammer because it gives the appearance of “ephemeral communication akin to a verbal conversation among friends and colleagues”.
In a new set of guidelines, the office has taken a very clear stance that “this is not the case”.
The OIC warned Queensland government Yammer users to be wary of sharing any personal information about themselves or others via the platform over jurisdictional concerns - the infrastructure hosting the service is located in San Francisco.
“Any Yammer participant who posts the personal information of another person (for example, by mentioning that a specific individual has given advice on a particular topic) is transferring that individual’s personal information overseas," the privacy watchdog formally warned.
“If this is done without the individual’s agreement, it could potentially lead to a privacy complaint."
Under the Queensland Information Privacy Act, individuals must consent before their personal information can be sent outside of Australia - unless there are compelling legal or personal safety considerations at play.
The OIC also sought to remind public servants that despite the social nature of Yammer, every communication created using the platform in a professional context is subject to state records legislation and can be requested by the public via the Right to Information Act.
"Regardless of whether Yammer is used to engage in shared or private messages and conversations, these postings constitute a document of the agency," it warned potential Yammer over-sharers.
“Posters should take care to avoid or minimise their postings of personal information."