On 23 May, privacy law reform took a step closer with the
introduction of the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy
Protection) Bill 2012 into Parliament. The Bill stems from the
2008 Australian Law Reform Commission report, "For Your
Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice", of which
more than half of the 295 recommendations have been implemented
into the Bill.
As the world becomes increasingly integrated online, there are
increased risks in the handling of personal information. The Bill
seeks to give people more information on how their personal details
are being used on the internet through implementing rules around
how companies and organisations can collect, use and disclose
One of the main changes under the Bill is the creation of the
Australian Privacy Principles ("APPs"),
a single set of privacy principles applying to both Commonwealth
agencies and private sector organisations, which replace the
Information Privacy Principles for the public sector and the
National Privacy Principles for the private sector.
Other key changes include:
Clearer and tighter regulation of the use of personal
information for direct marketing;
Extending privacy protections to unsolicited information;
Making it easier for consumers to access and correct
information held about them;
Tightening the rules on sending personal information outside
A higher standard of protection to be afforded to
"sensitive information" – which includes health
Enhancing the power of the Privacy Commissioner to improve the
Commissioner's ability to resolve company privacy compliance;
Giving individuals more power to opt out of receiving direct
The changes introduced by the Bill are the biggest reforms to
the privacy law in 24 years.
There will be a new requirement in the APPs for organisations
and companies to develop detailed privacy policies and make them
clear and easily accessible to consumers.
The Bill also makes it easier for consumers to access and
correct their personal credit information. The legislation will
increase the amount of personal credit information available to
credit agencies and mortgage providers.
The Bill also increases the powers of the Australian Privacy
Commissioner to resolve complaints, conduct investigations and
promote privacy compliance. The Privacy Commissioner will have new
powers, including the power to seek enforceable remedies for
consumers who have had their privacy breached.
The Bill is still subject to amendments by Parliament. The Bill
will commence nine months after it receives royal assent.
We will be providing further information on the Bill in the near
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Those types of personal disclosure may still be permitted under the Privacy Act as long as your house is in order.
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