New restrictions on disclosing personal information
Amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 have taken effect
today with scary new powers for the Privacy Commissioner and
greater obligations on businesses being just a couple of the
features of the revamped privacy regime. Among the changes is an
obligation that privacy policies include a statement as to whether
or not a business is likely to disclose personal information to
overseas entities, and if so, the countries in which those entities
The third parties to whom we disclose personal
information may be located in Australia and other countries
including Argentina, China, Canada, Hungary, India, Israel,
Ireland, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand,
Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, Spain, South Africa,
South Korea, UAE, United Kingdom and United States of
Overseas disclosure of personal information is a hot topic in
privacy law reform. The amended Act only allows a business to
disclose information overseas if it:
takes reasonable steps to ensure the overseas recipient
doesn't breach Australian privacy laws (probably what Coles is
doing, as a behemoth it can bargain hard and get its suppliers to
agree to comply); or
reasonably believes that the overseas recipient is subject to a
privacy regime that is substantially similar to Australia's
privacy laws (we make no comment on Polish privacy law); or
gets the informed and express consent of the individual to whom
that personal information relates to the effect that Australian
privacy laws won't apply to the information once
and letting you know where your information is going.
Interestingly, Woolworths' amended policy only lists New
Zealand, the US and Switzerland as likely overseas recipients
(although it does helpfully suggest that your info could go
anywhere – it's just too hard for them to tell you
We do not disclaim anything about this article. We're
quite proud of it really.
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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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