The purpose of the Privacy Act is to protect individuals against
the mishandling of personal information about them by organisations
that collect or share that information. Significant changes to the
Act will come into force in March 2014 and are likely to affect you
and your business. These are the most significant changes to
Australian Privacy laws since the current Act was passed in
Until now, the Act has not taken into account the rise of the
internet and the predominance of online business dealings. Online
banking and billing and electronic marketing did not exist when the
Act was implemented.
Organisations need to ensure that policies and procedures
addressing each of the new Australian Privacy Principles are in
place, to ensure compliance with the updated legislation. It is
notices prior to March 2014 as the Privacy Commissioner will also
have greater power to conduct assessments of your compliance with
the Act, in both the government and the private sector. Civil
penalties will apply for businesses who fail to comply with these
laws with the Act providing for penalties for repeat offenders of
up to $340 000 for an individual and $1.7 million for a
The changes to the Act include restrictions on what type of
personal information can be collected. This means you will need to
review how you identify, manage and monitor the personal
information residing in your organisation, how that information can
be used (eg for direct marketing), and the basis on which personal
information, may be shared with a third party either in Australia
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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