Hot on the heels of the comprehensive changes to Australia's
privacy laws that took effect on 12 March 2014, the Privacy
Amendment (Privacy Alerts) Bill 2014 (2014
Bill) was introduced on Thursday 20 March 2014, and had
its second reading in the Senate. The 2014 Bill would amend the
Privacy Act 1988, which does not currently require any notification
of a privacy breach detected by an organisation or agency. However
this looks set to change if the 2014 Bill is passed.
The 2014 Bill is identical to the Privacy Amendment (Privacy
Alerts) Bill 2013 (2013 Bill), which was
introduced to Parliament in May last year, other than its
commencement date if passed (unless otherwise proclaimed, it would
be 6 months after Royal Assent). Although the 2013 Bill was not
passed before the Federal Election, and therefore lapsed, it
appeared that the concept of breach notification had bi-partisan
While the 2014 Bill may yet change, if it is passed in its
current form the proposed laws will require an organisation or
agency to notify privacy breaches to the Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner (OAIC) if there is a
"real risk of serious harm" to the affected individuals.
A notification to the OAIC will need to include various details
regarding the privacy breach, such as the personal information that
was accessed and steps that individuals should take in response to
the breach. In addition, in some circumstances the organisation or
agency will be required to notify the affected individuals or
publish public notices, which could of course potentially cause
significant commercial and reputational damage.
We will keep you updated on the passage of the 2014 Bill, and
when it will take effect if passed.
Finally, if you are still working towards being privacy
compliant following the recent privacy law changes, we have a fixed
price Privacy Compliance Package, which includes a 65 page Privacy
Compliance Manual detailing the prospect of mandatory data breach
notification, the new Australian Privacy Principles
(APPs), compliance checklists for the APPs and a
(plus GST). Please contact us for further information.
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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