26 September 2023

Call for law changes to protect people

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The Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) is proposing more than 100 changes to Australian privacy law to strengthen the protection of personal information and the control individuals have over their information in a new report.

Calling for feedback until 31 March on its 116 proposals, AGD said its Privacy Act Review Report raised complex policy issues that affected individuals and public and private entities.

“We are seeking your views to inform the Australian Government’s response to this report to ensure that any reforms the Australian Government implements are balanced and effective,” AGD said.

“The proposed reforms are aimed at strengthening the protection of personal information and the control individuals have over their information,” it said.

“Stronger privacy protections would support digital innovation and enhance Australia’s reputation as a trusted trading partner.”

Welcoming the report, Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said she saw the AGD’s proposal to introduce a positive obligation that personal information handling was fair and reasonable, as a new keystone of the Australian privacy framework.

“This shifts the burden from individuals, who are currently required to safeguard their privacy by navigating complex privacy policies and consent requirements, and places more responsibility on the organisations who collect and use personal information to ensure that their practices are fair and reasonable in the first place,” Commissioner Falk said.

She noted the report contained proposals that would enhance the powers of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) as the privacy regulator, to enforce privacy obligations, identify systemic privacy issues and address privacy breaches.

“It also contains other important proposals, such as enabling individuals to exercise new privacy rights and take direct action in the courts if their privacy is breached, and the removal of some exemptions from the Privacy Act,” Commissioner Falk said.

“These proposals reflect the baseline privacy rights expected by our community.”

AGD’s 312-page Review Report can be accessed at this PS News link and further information on the consultation at this link.

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