The passing of the Privacy Amendment Bill 2012 will have a significant impact on all facets of operations for Australian businesses. The new legislation will have major effects on the handling and control of personal information and use of company databases. At the heart of the reforms, the new Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) will mean that the same privacy laws will apply to Australian Government agencies and the private sector.
The Hon. Mark Dreyfus QC MP, Attorney-General delivered the opening keynote address at Informa’s inaugural Privacy Reform and Compliance Forum last week. His talk gave more detailed background information on the passing of the Privacy Amendment Bill. “My hope is that the new reforms will build even more confidence in the Australian community about the privacy practices of government agencies and businesses by facilitating even more open, transparent and secure handling practices involving personal information”, Mr Dreyfus said and continued to share his experience about the public’s growing awareness for privacy issues.
“I often see media reports declaring the end of privacy, or that younger generations are not concerned about their privacy. What I have learned in my time as Attorney-General is that reports about the death of privacy are grossly exaggerated. It is clear to me that Australians feel very strongly about the protection of their privacy. I’m yet to receive a letter from an individual complaining that they receive too much privacy. In the online environment, it is now commonplace to read detailed privacy notices, adjust privacy settings on social media sites, and expect high levels of data security. Australians are becoming very familiar with their privacy rights. Community attitudes about privacy have not waned. In fact, I think they have strengthened.” (View the Mr Dreyfus’ full speech).
Over 80 attendees participated in the inaugural Privacy Reform and Compliance Forum to discuss the likely implications of the new legislation. The distinguished speaking panel included contributions by Dr. Elizabeth Coombs, Privacy Commissioner, Information and Privacy Commission NSW who explained the future roles and responsibility of the Privacy Commissioner to the audience.
Dr. Coombs later joined Lemm Ex, A/ Privacy Commissioner at the Office of the Information Commissioner, Queensland, Dr. Anthony Bendall, A/Privacy Commissioner at the Office of the Victorian Privacy Commissioner and Maureen Tangney, Assistant Director General (Legal and Policy) at the Office of the NSW Attorney General for a discussion round table. The group debated how the privacy reforms will impact state laws and authorities. Panellists also examined how the new privacy legislation will be implemented and enforced.