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Is Australia’s Privacy Act fit for purpose? Time to have your say

11 November 2020

#Data & Privacy

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Is Australia’s Privacy Act fit for purpose? Time to have your say

On 30 October 2020, the Attorney-General’s Department released its terms of reference and timeline for a review of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act), along with an Issues Paper here to seek public responses to 68 questions about the legislation. Submissions are due by 29 November 2020.

This review takes account of and builds upon the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Digital Platforms Inquiry final report (DPI report). The DPI report considered the impact of online platforms on advertising and the media and proposed broad reform of the Privacy Act.

The government agreed to consult on the following specific reforms raised in the DPI report:

  • updating the definition of ‘personal information’ to capture technical data and other online identifiers (Recommendation 16(a))
  • strengthening existing notification requirements (Recommendation 16(b))
  • strengthening consent requirements and pro-consumer defaults (Recommendation 16(c))
  • introducing a direct right of action to enforce privacy obligations under the Privacy Act (Recommendation 16(e)).

Other questions raised in the review relate to various exemptions, such as the small business exemption, political parties exemption and the journalism exemption. These are relevant to Australia’s position to obtain adequacy ruling from the EU. Currently, under the General Data Protection Regulation, Australia’s privacy protections are not regarded as adequate and EU businesses wishing to transfer personal data to Australia need to undertake additional contractual protections.

Similarly, the employee records exemption, which has existed since 1988, was said to be a matter for industrial legislation but have never been fully resolved.

Our team has a breadth and depth of experience in all aspects of privacy and related data laws. If you think your business may be impacted by these legislative changes, either positively or negatively, we can assist you in making a submission.

Author: Lyn Nicholson

The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this newsletter is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.

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