23 May 2012: Federal Attorney General Nicola Roxon has introduced the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012 into the House of Representatives. The Bill reflects the Government’s acceptance in 2010 of 197 of 295 recommendations by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) in that body’s comprehensive For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice report.
The Bill’s most significant feature is the introduction of a unified set of ‘Australian Privacy Principles’ (APPs). These principles are intended to cover public and private sector entities and provide for:
- Tighter regulations on the collection and use of personal data;
- Provisions for protection of unsolicited personal data;
- Requirements that agencies take reasonable steps to correct personal data they receive;
- New rules for the use of data for direct marketing, turning on whether an individual would reasonably expect their data would be used for such purposes, and allowing individuals top opt out and to request information of marketing agencies about where the agency got their information;
- New regulations on when data can be transferred overseas, requiring reasonable steps to be taken to ensure the transferee organisation does not breach the APP’s; and
- Provisions for liability of Australia organisations who transfer their data overseas, including responsibilities for breach by the organisation the data is transferred to.
The Bill also introduces a comprehensive credit reporting scheme, including requiring credit reporting agencies to disclose ‘positive’ data sets to credit providers, such as account opening and closing dates and credit repayment history. In addition, new privacy protections will make it easier for you to ask for corrections to your credit record and easier to register complaints about those who hold the data.
Finally, the powers of the Privacy Commissioner will have increased powers including conciliation powers, powers to enforce remedial action and powers to seek civil penalties for serious breach by application to the Federal Court or the Federal Magistrates Court.
See the full Bill and explanatory memorandum here and the Second Reading speech here. Read the Government’s press release here. For more information and analysis see Bruce Arnold’s piece at The Conversation and Peter Timmins at Open and Shut.