Businesses and organisations that experience notifiable privacy breaches (breaches that they reasonably believe have caused, or have the potential to cause, serious harm) must report the breach to the Privacy Commissioner.

Reporting a notifiable privacy breach can be done by using the Commissioner’s online reporting tool, NotifyUs, on the Commissioner’s website.

Failing to report a notifiable privacy breach is a criminal offence. A business or organisation that does not report a notifiable privacy breach may be prosecuted and fined up to $10,000.

Additionally, the Commissioner has the power to issue compliance notices to agencies that fail to adhere to their privacy obligations. Similarly, there can be a $10,000 penalty for failing to comply with a notice.

The most commonly reported breaches include:

  •        email errors (which typically involve personal information being sent to the wrong person) making up                25% of breaches;
  •        unauthorised sharing of personal information (21%);
  •        unauthorised access to information  (17%, which includes hacking and ransomware); and
  •        website and IT errors (10%).

Privacy breaches have significant consequences for the people that they affect. This includes:

  •        emotional harm (65%);
  •        risk of identity theft or financial harm (30%); and
  •        reputational harm (30%).

If you are unsure of your business’s or organisation’s obligations under the Act it is wise to speak with a privacy professional. Privacy professionals are able to assist businesses and organisations to ensure that they have robust policies and procedures in place to comply with their obligations, and to the greatest extent possible, avoid a potentially costly (financially and reputational) privacy breach.


Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.