Last updated 1 December 2020
Section 25 of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) (Human Rights Act) protects the rights to privacy and reputation. The scope of this right is very broad, protecting not only people’s personal information and acting as a safeguard from unlawful or arbitrary data collection, but also the right to a private life. It places negative obligations on a public entity, prohibiting unlawful or arbitrary interferences with home, family, integrity and other aspects of an individual’s identity, communications, correspondence and character. Freedom of thought and conscience are also protected.
Subsection 25(a) prohibits unlawful or arbitrary interference with a person’s privacy, family, home or correspondence. This is likely to encompass interference with one’s home, family, integrity, aspects of one’s individual identity, communications, correspondence and character.
Subsection 25(b) prohibits unlawful attacks on a person’s reputation. It is likely that conduct that is defensible under the Defamation Act 2005 (Qld) will not amount to an unlawful attack on a person’s reputation. The Defamation chapter of the Queensland Law Handbook explains what will constitute defamation and defences under that Act.
Section 25 is a limited right, because it allows lawful and non-arbitrary interference with a person’s privacy, family, home or correspondence and lawful attacks on a person’s reputation.
The right to privacy and reputation will also be subject to the general limitation provision in s 13 of the Human Rights Act. This provides human rights may be subject under law to reasonable limits, which are justified in a free and democratic society. See ‘Human Rights may be Limited’ for further explanation.
The rights to privacy and reputation may be engaged:
- in privacy complaints that relate to the way a public entity deals with personal information
- during decisions, appeals or reviews about guardianship, administration, child protection and public housing tenancies where the decision or order will often interfere with this human right
- where a policy is arbitrarily applied by a public entity and impacts on decisions made in these areas (e.g. a transitional housing policy being applied by a public housing provider to someone who requires transition to alternative housing within a strict timeframe)
- in relation to involuntary treatment order decisions, including in relation to the administration of medical treatment.
These examples have been adapted from Australian cases. They are provided by way of example only, and are not a substitute for legal advice.