The Advertising Standards Bureau (the Bureau) respects your privacy.

Although the Bureau 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 the Bureau collects, uses, manages and discloses personal information in connection with its advertising complaints functions.

Functions of the Bureau

The Bureau's primary function is managing the advertising complaint adjudication process as Secretariat to the Advertising Standards Board, the Independent Review process and the Advertising Claims Board.

The Bureau 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:

The Bureau also commissions independent research to measure community attitudes and concerns about advertising.

Collection of personal information

The Bureau collects personal information in the course of performing its functions. The kinds of personal information routinely collected by the Bureau 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 the Bureau, which may be done electronically via the Bureau's website, or in writing, via mail or fax. It is collected to enable the Bureau to consider, assess and progress an advertising related complaint. The personal information collected enables the Bureau 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 the Bureau is not obliged to accept the complaint or forward it to the relevant adjudication body for consideration.

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

Use and disclosure of personal information by the Bureau

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

Management of complaints

Where a complaint pertains to one of the industry Codes or Initiatives administered by the Bureau, 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 the Bureau about the complaint
  • the relevant adjudication body (the Advertising Standards Board, the Independent Reviewer, the Advertising Claims Board, 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, the Bureau 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.

The Bureau 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 the Bureau to disclose the complainant's contact details to the advertiser or to the adjudication body since all correspondence with the complainant will be from the Bureau 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 Advertising Standards Board and Independent Reviewer concerning the determination of complaints are published on the Bureau's 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, the Bureau 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 Advertising Claims Board are published on the Bureau 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 the Bureau (including complainants' personal information) may be disclosed to parties conducting research on behalf of the Bureau in relation to the complaint adjudication processes it administers.

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

Service providers

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

The Bureau takes steps to ensure that each of their service providers are aware of the Bureau's Privacy Policy and require those providers to keep complainants' personal information confidential and secure.

Security of personal information

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

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 the Bureau to:

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

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

The Bureau 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 the Bureau, or to request access to your personal information, please contact:

The Advertising Standards Bureau
Level 2, 97 Northbourne Avenue
Turner ACT 2612
Telephone: (02) 6173 1500
Email: privacy@adstandards.com.au