Information and privacy – Business Licensing Authority

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Overview

The Victorian Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) gives you the right to access your personal information held by Government agencies, including the Business Licensing Authority (BLA). You can also request that agencies amend or remove incorrect or misleading information held about you. Privacy laws outline how the BLA manage your personal information.

Information

The FOI Act lets you access documents about your personal affairs and the activities of government agencies.

Request access to information

Prepare a letter that clearly describes the information you want to access.

If the request is about your personal information, provide evidence of your identity, (such as a photocopy of a driver's licence). If you are unsure about what type of ID to provide, email the BLA Registrar.

Post the form and fee, available from the Freedom of Information website, to the BLA Registrar.

If the fee would cause you hardship, you can apply to have it waived. Please include documents to support your application.

For more detailed information about applying under the FOI Act, visit the Victorian Government Freedom of Information website.

Privacy

The BLA manages personal information in accordance with the Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) in the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) (the Privacy Act) and the Business Licensing Authority Act 1998. The BLA’s privacy policy applies to any personal information provided to it by an individual, and to personal information that it obtains about individuals from other sources.

Partial exemption for law enforcement agencies

As a ‘law enforcement’ agency, the BLA is not required to comply with some of the IPPs if it believes, on reasonable grounds, that non-compliance is necessary for the purposes of our law enforcement functions.

The IPPs relevant to this partial exemption are listed in section 13 of the Privacy Act. You should read the following description of the IPPs with these possible exemptions in mind.

Information Privacy Principles

1. Collection of personal information

The BLA only collect s personal information that it is authorised by law to collect and that is necessary for the performance of its licensing and registration functions. This includes information used to assess licence and registration applications, to update and verify licensees' and registrants' details, and to maintain public registers required by law.

The BLA usually collects personal information directly from individuals, while considering an application for a licence or registration under one of the business licensing Acts. The BLA collects some personal information from third parties during probity checks in connection with these applications. It only does so when it is authorised or required by law. Applicants, licensees and registrants are advised that such collection will take place.

2. Use and disclosure of personal information

Apart from public register information, the Business Licensing Authority Act 1998 requires the BLA to maintain the confidentiality of personal information about applicants, licensees and registrants. This applies to everyone who is or has been a member of the BLA, the BLA Registrar, and other staff assisting the BLA.

Exceptions to confidentiality include disclosing information to:

  • the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria
  • the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
  • a member of the police force
  • the BLA legal advisers
  • anyone else, with the consent of the subject of the information.

In general, the BLA only uses the personal information it obtains for:

  • assessing applications for registration and licensing
  • updating and verifying licensees' and registrants' details
  • assessing the need for restrictions on an existing licence
  • assessing the case for referring a licensee to Consumer Affairs Victoria or Victoria Police for enforcement action.

The BLA has to keep registers available for inspection by the public, relating to:

  • conveyancers
  • estate agents and agents' representatives
  • motor car traders
  • rooming house operators
  • sex work service providers and approved brothel managers
  • second-hand dealers and pawnbrokers.

Personal information may be disclosed on a public register if, for example, a person trades or carries on business from their residential address.

To discover exactly what information the BLA discloses on the public register, please view your relevant public register page.

The BLA is sometimes required by Commonwealth law to provide personal information to Commonwealth Government agencies.

Public registers - restricted access

To check which details appear on the public registers, please view your relevant public register page.

You can apply to the BLA Registrar to restrict public access to your personal information on a public register, if there are exceptional circumstances. For example, if intervention orders are in place to protect you in relation to stalking offences and the offender is likely to use the information to harm you, the BLA can restrict access to it.

Your application should identify which personal information you want restricted, and detail the exceptional circumstances.

Someone other than you can apply for the release of your restricted personal information. The BLA may be required to release it to them if it is satisfied that it is in the public interest to do so. However, it cannot be released until 28 days after the BLA gives you written notice. During those 28 days, you can ask the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to review the BLA’s decision.

3. Data quality

The BLA always tries to obtain complete information while someone is applying and after they are licensed or registered. The public registers are updated regularly from mandatory annual statements and information updates submitted by licensees and registrants.

4. Data security

The BLA stores personal information in hard copy documents, as electronic data, or in its computer systems. The BLA endeavours to protect any personal information it holds from misuse or loss and to prevent unauthorised access, modification or disclosure. Some of the protective measures the BLA employs are:

  • document security arrangements and policies in line with the Public Records Act 1973
  • security measures for access to its computer systems
  • controlling access to its premises
  • confidentiality requirements imposed upon employees and BLA members.

5. Openness

You can ask our Privacy Co-ordinator about the sort of personal information the BLA holds, why it holds it and how it collects, holds, uses and discloses it.

6. Access to and correction of personal information

Access

You can email the BLA Privacy Co-ordinator for access to your personal information, subject to the Business Licensing Authority Act 1998 and Freedom of Information laws. If the BLA denies your request, it will tell you why and explain any legal exemptions it based its decision on.

Corrections

To request an amendment to personal information the Business Licensing Authority holds, email the BLA Privacy Co-ordinator. The BLA Registrar is authorised to correct an error or omission in our registers, but the BLA is not obliged to amend in the way requested – it may either alter the relevant information or add an appropriate notation to the information.

7. Unique identifiers

If you become registered or licensed under a business licensing Act, the BLA assigns a registration or licence number to you. These numbers allow the BLA to perform its functions under the business licensing Acts. You must display the numbers at the premises and in advertisements for certain businesses, such as licensed motor car traders.

8. Anonymity

The BLA respects the rights of individuals to remain anonymous when making general enquiries or accessing its public registers. However, you cannot anonymously apply for registration or licensing under any of the business licensing Acts.

9. Information crossing borders

The BLA takes reasonable steps to ensure that your privacy is protected when it transfers personal information to another agency or body (see Principle 2, above).

10. Sensitive information

The BLA collects criminal record information during the application process and if a licensee requires ‘permission’. The BLA does this to ensure that only eligible people are licensed or registered. The BLA uses special consent forms to ensure that it has informed consent.

Responding to information requests

The BLA will try to help you with as little formality as possible, and without charging a fee. However, if your request is difficult, time-consuming or involves personal information about other people, the BLA may have to use Freedom of Information procedures to process it. In that case, a fee will apply.

The Privacy Co-ordinator will investigate any complaint about information privacy. The BLA acknowledges written complaints within five working days and provide a full response within 30 working days. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you are entitled to complain directly to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

If you have any questions about personal privacy, email the BLA Privacy Co-ordinator.

Last updated: 25/04/2017

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