Ad Standards respects your privacy.

Although Ad Standards is not an organisation that is subject to the Privacy Act 1988, we are committed to handling your personal information in a professional and respectful way.

The purpose of this Privacy Policy is to tell you about the way in which Ad Standards collects, uses, manages and discloses personal information in connection with its advertising complaints functions.

Functions of Ad Standards

Ad Standards' primary function is managing the advertising complaint adjudication process as secretariat to the Ad Standards Community Panel, the Independent Review process and the Ad Standards Industry Jury.

Ad Standards also receives complaints relating to advertising of alcohol beverages on behalf of the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Management Committee and manages the complaints processes for:

Ad Standards also commissions independent research to measure community attitudes and concerns about advertising.

Collection of personal information

Ad Standards collects personal information in the course of performing its functions. The kinds of personal information routinely collected by Ad Standards include:

  • the names of people who make advertising related complaints (complainants)
  • complainants' contact details including their postal address, email, telephone and fax numbers
  • complainants’ company/organisation (if lodging a complaint on their behalf)
  • complainants’ age and gender
  • complainants' opinions about the advertisement which is the subject of complaint.

This personal information is collected when a complainant lodges their complaint with Ad Standards, which may be done electronically via Ad Standards' website, or in writing, via mail or fax. It is collected to enable Ad Standards to consider, assess and progress an advertising related complaint. The personal information collected enables Ad Standards to validate the complaint’s authenticity and to correspond with complainants throughout the complaints process.

If a complainant fails to provide valid contact details, the complaint is not sufficient to trigger the formal complaint process and Ad Standards is not obliged to accept the complaint or forward it to the relevant adjudication body for consideration.

Ad Standards also collects the names and contact details of those people who direct questions or comments to Ad Standards, or who wish to subscribe to one of Ad Standards' information products.

Use and disclosure of personal information by Ad Standards

Ad Standards uses personal information for the purpose for which it was collected and for related purposes that are consistent with the functions of Ad Standards.

Management of complaints

Where a complaint pertains to one of the industry Codes or Initiatives administered by Ad Standards, details about the complaint (including the complainant's name, gender, age bracket and the State/Territory in which they reside) will be provided to:

  • the advertiser, to allow the advertiser to respond to Ad Standards about the complaint
  • the relevant adjudication body (the Ad Standards Community Panel, the Independent Reviewer, the Ad Standards Industry Jury, or the independent arbiters of the Australian Food and Grocery Council’s Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative or Australian Quick Service Restaurant Initiative for Responsible Advertising and Marketing to Children) to make a determination, and
  • if appropriate, a body or person appointed to provide expert advice to the adjudication body (for example, advice may be sought from a nutrition expert in relation to issues involving the substantiation of claims under the Australian Association of National Advertisers Food and Beverages Advertising and Marketing Communications Code.

Where a complaint relates to advertising of alcohol beverages, Ad Standards also receives the complaint on behalf of the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Management Committee. All complaints about advertising of alcohol beverages are provided to the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Management Committee and Complaints Adjudication Panel for investigation and, if appropriate, determination under the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code.

Ad Standards will not disclose the name of a complainant to the advertiser or adjudicator if the complainant has requested confidentiality. Complaints received by mail will automatically be treated as confidential. 

It will not usually be necessary for Ad Standards to disclose the complainant's contact details to the advertiser or to the adjudication body since all correspondence with the complainant will be from Ad Standards in its capacity as secretariat.

Members of the relevant adjudication body and expert advisory bodies are obliged to keep complaint-related information (including complainants' personal information) confidential and secure.

Final reports prepared by the Community Panel and Independent Reviewer concerning the determination of complaints are published on Ad Standards' website. These reports include extracts from the original advertising related complaint, but will not disclose the complainants' name or other personal information. In some circumstances, Ad Standards may refer finalised complaints to appropriate government or industry bodies, such as FreeTV Australia or the Australian Competition or Consumer Commission, for further investigation or action. Complainant personal information will only be included in information referred to such bodies with the complainant’s consent.

Final reports detailing the determinations made by the Industry Jury are published on Ad Standards' website and may also be referred to the media or an appropriate government agency for further action. Where a determination relates to a complaint lodged by an individual, the final report will not include the complainant's name or any other personal information unless they have consented to the disclosure of that information.

Research and statistical analysis

Information about complaints received by Ad Standards (including complainants' personal information) may be disclosed to parties conducting research on behalf of Ad Standards in relation to the complaint adjudication processes it administers.

Researchers engaged by Ad Standards are obliged to keep complainants' personal information confidential and secure. Complainants' personal information will not be included in reports published by researchers.

Service providers

Ad Standards' service providers, for example information technology and database service providers, may, in the course of providing their services, have access to complainants' personal information.

Ad Standards takes steps to ensure that each of their service providers are aware of our Privacy Policy and require those providers to keep complainants' personal information confidential and secure.

Security of personal information

Personal information in the possession of Ad Standards, in paper and electronic records, are stored securely and accessed on a strictly need-to-know basis. Access to Ad Standards' premises is restricted to staff of Ad Standards.

Records containing personal information may be stored in a secure off-site facility or will be destroyed in a secure manner.

Access to your personal information

You may contact Ad Standards to:

  • request access to personal information held by Ad Standards and which relates to you
  • request that personal information held by Ad Standards and which relates to you be updated.

Requests for accessing and updating personal information should be directed to Ad Standards at the address below.

Ad Standards reserves the right to charge a small fee to cover the cost of providing access to personal information.

Further information

For further information about the management of personal information by Ad Standards, or to request access to your personal information, please contact:

Ad Standards
PO Box 5110
Telephone: (02) 6173 1500
Email: [email protected]