The overhaul of identification cards for security personnel in New South Wales in December came after complaints that information on current IDs violated privacy statutes, according to recently released documents.
Early last year, a person only identified as a member of the New South Wales security industry made a complaint to the NSW Office of the Privacy Commissioner about the requirement for security personnel to wear and display license cards while on duty. The complainant expressed concerns about physical and financial safety because of the amount of information listed on the cards and said ID cards showing names and birthdate violated NSW privacy laws, according to recently released investigation report by the privacy commissioner.
The ID cards listed a person’s licensee information including license class, name, signature, and expiration date, but also included the person’s date of birth. The complainant said displaying a person’s full name and date of birth on the license could help individuals dig for further personal information like a person’s home address or banking details, according to the official report.
The licenses are issued to personnel in a wide range of security-related jobs that include bodyguards, armed guards, guard dog handlers, loss prevention officers, and locksmiths.
After an investigation, the privacy commissioner agreed that the date of birth was unnecessary information and the Road and Traffic Authority (now called Road and Maritime Services), the issuing agency, stopped including birthdates in August.
The ID cards for security personnel and firearms owners were based on a template used for motor vehicle licenses, which both include date of birth.
“The investigation into this matter has revealed that the agencies did not meet their privacy obligations under New South Wales law,” said Deputy Privacy Commissioner John McAteer in a press release. “The mandatory display of excessive personal information, (the date of birth) is a matter of significance when looking to prevent identity theft and other risks to the personal safety and privacy of individuals.”
There was also some confusion about the Security Industry Act of 1997, which mandates licensing for security personnel, but does not expressly say a person’s name has to be included on the license. An amendment is in the works now to explicitly state that a person’s name is required on a license.
“Agencies need to clearly understand their powers and obligations, and the limits on what personal information they collect and use,” McAteer said.
photo of NSWPF Trail bike squad member from Highway Patrol Images/flickr