Australia: Federal Parliament passes the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012

Last Updated: 5 December 2012
Article by Alison Baker and Rhiannon Nixon

Yesterday, the Federal Parliament passed legislation, the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 (Cth) (Amending Act) which significantly reforms the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act).

These reforms will have a considerable impact on most public and private sector organisations. Although the changes will not commence until March 2014, it is important for businesses to use the 15 month lead-in time to understand the new privacy laws and prepare for their impact on their current privacy policies and processes.

What are the major privacy reforms?

The most significant reforms introduced by the Amending Act are summarised below.


The APPs are a set of 13 privacy principles that will apply to both Commonwealth agencies and private sector organisations (APP entities), replacing the 11 Information Privacy Principles currently applying to the public sector and 10 National Privacy Principles currently applying to the private sector.

The APPs are presented within five groups of principles:

  1. Principles that require APP entities to consider how they manage and handle personal information.
  2. Principles regulating the collection of personal information, including unsolicited personal information.
  3. Principles regulating the use and disclosure of personal information, including cross-border disclosures and use of government related identifiers.
  4. Principles that deal with the integrity, quality and security of personal information.
  5. Principles setting out the rights of individuals to access and correct personal information.

For business, the most significant changes introduced by the new APPs include:

  • greater obligations to ensure comprehensive privacy policies and processes are in place;
  • new obligations to assess whether the collection of unsolicited personal information is reasonably necessary and if not, destroy or de-identify it;
  • more restrictive rules about how organisations can use personal information for direct marketing purposes;
  • more onerous responsibilities when disclosing personal information to overseas entities (including a cloud service provider) by:
    • requiring an APP entity, which discloses personal information to an overseas entity, to take reasonable steps to ensure the overseas recipient does not breach the APPs; and
    • rendering the APP entity, that discloses the personal information, liable for any act or omission by the overseas entity that is not in accordance with the APPs.

Introduction of a comprehensive credit reporting system

Currently, the credit reporting system established under the Privacy Act is a 'negative' reporting system, set up to assist credit providers assess an individual's credit worthiness through access to information that reflects predominantly negative credit behaviour, while also having mechanisms in place to protect the individual's personal information.

Under the new comprehensive credit reporting system, in addition to information about an individual's current credit providers, credit defaults or serious credit infringements, a limited number of additional kinds of personal information about individuals will be permitted, being:

  • the date a credit account was opened by an individual;
  • the type of credit account opened;
  • the date the credit account was closed;
  • the current limit of each open credit account; and
  • repayment performance history (available to certain credit providers).

The purpose behind a more comprehensive credit reporting system is to allow credit providers to make a more robust assessment of whether an individual is a credit risk. It is expected this will in turn lead to decreased levels of over-indebtedness and lower credit default rates, while at the same time improving competition in the credit market.

However, while the new system will give credit providers greater access to an individual's personal information, it also enhances obligations on credit providers with regard to notification, data quality, access and correction, and complaints.

Introduction of provisions under which the Australian Information Commissioner can develop binding codes of conduct, such as APP Codes and a Credit Reporting Code

Pursuant to the Amending Act, some APP entities will be bound by APP Codes, whether at their own initiative or following a request or requirement of the Australian Information Commissioner (AIC). An APP Code will not replace the APPs but operate in addition to the requirements of the APPs and must be registered with the AIC.
The Amending Act also contains provisions for the development of a code of practice about credit reporting.

Strengthening the powers of the Australian Information Commissioner

The Amending Act strengthens the AIC's ability to enforce the Privacy Act by giving it the power to:

  • accept enforceable undertakings from APP entities to take, or refrain from taking, specified actions to ensure compliance with their privacy obligations, and prosecute such entities who breach their undertakings;
  • monitor APP entities with regard to their performance in meeting their privacy obligations by initiating and undertaking assessments or investigations; and
  • seek civil penalties against APP entities, in circumstances of serious or repeated interferences with an individual's privacy, of up to $1.1million for corporations and $220,000 for non-corporate entities.

What should businesses do to prepare for the privacy reforms?

To ensure compliance with the new privacy obligations, businesses should take the following steps:

  • consider their current privacy policies and processes to determine gaps with compliance;
  • review and update current privacy policies to ensure they comply with the APPs;
  • educate and train staff on the new privacy obligations; and
  • put in place all business processes and practices needed to ensure compliance.

The Hall & Wilcox Privacy team is well placed to assist businesses with meeting their compliance obligations.

The team will be offering briefing sessions early next year to take you through in detail:

  • the APPs and their practical impact on your business;
  • the new credit reporting provisions, including the expanded rights and responsibilities of credit providers; and
  • the consequences of non-compliance with your privacy obligations.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.