Changed privacy laws may affect you

  • The Australian Privacy Commissioner’s recent visit to Griffith highlighted a number of significant changes to privacy laws. Do they impact you?

To celebrate 2014 Privacy Awareness Week the Friends of the Library hosted Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, earlier this month.

The Commissioner outlined the most significant changes to privacy laws in over 25 years and their affect on a large section of the community. The changes include a new set of Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) that will regulate the handling of personal information by Australian Government agencies, businesses with a turnover of more than $3 million or those trading in personal information and all private health providers. There are also changes to the credit reporting provisions of the Privacy Act and new regulatory powers for the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), including the power to conduct a privacy performance assessment, accept an enforceable undertaking and, in the case of serious or repeated breaches, seek civil penalties.

The changes to privacy laws aim to bring our laws up to date with contemporary information handling practices, including global data flows. The Commissioner noted that ‘being up front with customers and having good privacy practices in place makes good business sense. It is also consistent with community expectations’.

The Commissioner discussed what he sees as the main issues surrounding privacy at the moment including:

  • managing our digital identity: we are at risk of disclosing too much of our personal information online
  • data breaches are increasing: the OAIC received 10,576 privacy enquiries and 1,496 privacy complaints in 2012-13 and has already received 30% more complaints this financial year
  • transparency: businesses need to be more open about how they use their data, which can include your personal information
  • ensuring respect for the dignity of individuals.

One of the key messages from Mr Pilgrim’s presentation was that we all need privacy to be free: to innovate, to think, to argue and act as part of a democracy. Protecting our privacy is paramount to life as we know it.

For more information, visit the Friends of the Library website to view Mr Pilgrim’s presentation.

The latest news about privacy can be found on the Australian Government’s Office of the Australian Information Commissioner website.

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