Govt announces changes to Privacy Act

By Staff Writer

The Rudd Government will establish a single set of binding Privacy Principles for the handling of personal information by Commonwealth agencies and relevant businesses as part of a raft of reforms to the Privacy Act.

Cabinet Secretary, Senator Joe Ludwig, announced the government’s first stage response to the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) report into Australian privacy laws.
“The Rudd Government’s reforms will simplify privacy obligations, while building on our commitment to restoring trust and integrity in government,” Senator Ludwig said.

“Australia’s privacy laws have evolved from a series of overlapping standards at both the federal and state and territory levels, and between the public and private sectors.

“To simplify the system, the Government will provide for one set of streamlined Privacy Principles for Australian Government agencies and private sector organisations which will provide greater clarity and cut red tape.”

Other reforms include:
  • strengthening the Privacy Commissioner’s powers of investigation, compliance and enforcement;
  • providing for the enhanced use of data for the purpose of credit reporting, while including additional specific protections to ensure such data is used appropriately;
  • providing additional guidance for the use of health information;
  • improving guidance and education on privacy and new technologies; and
  • working with the States and Territories to harmonise privacy law across the Nation.
“There have been considerable changes to Australian society since the Privacy Act was created more than 20 years ago,” Senator Ludwig said.

“It is essential we keep a robust and adaptable system in place to protect the privacy of individuals and businesses in the 21st century.”

The Government’s first stage response addresses 197 of the ALRC report’s 295 recommendations to reform privacy laws.

“The Government will now be preparing exposure draft legislation to implement these reforms, which is anticipated to be released for public consultation early next year,” Senator Ludwig said.
To view the Government’s first stage response, titled Enhancing National Privacy Protection click here.

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