Privacy report recommends dragging Tasmania into the present

A report by Tasmania’s peak law reform body says it’s time for the state to join the rest of the country in making revenge porn an offence.

Yvette Maker: need for reform

About one in five Australians have been victims of image-based abuse, or ‘revenge porn’, the report by the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute says, and  it’s an offence to share private sexual images online under Commonwealth laws.

Yet Tasmania is the only state without a law banning the sharing of non-consensual intimate images.

“In Tasmania, there is no specific Tasmanian law concerning image-based abuse,” the report says.

“There is .. a need to enact state-based offences relating to distributing an intimate image without consent or threatening to distribute an intimate image.”

It adds that the prohibition should also extend to images created or modified by AI.

Data breach notification

The Law Reform Institute also wants to see the introduction of a data breach notification scheme in line with the Commonwealth and states like NSW and Queensland.

In contrast with other jurisdictions in Australia and overseas, there’s no requirement under Tasmanian law to inform the ombudsman or affected individuals if there’s been a breach involving personal information, it says.

Legislation covering listening devices should also be reformed to strengthen protections against optical, tracking and data surveillance, the institute says.

Updated laws need to cover the use of new surveillance technologies by governments, as well as information held and shared by government agencies.

Time to update privacy protections

The recommendations are among 63 contained in the report which calls for a review of Tasmanian privacy protections to reflect advances in technology including spyware, covert cameras and drones.

The report’s co-author Dr Yvette Maker says reforms to Tasmanian laws should be consistent with those of the Commonwealth and other states.

 “Currently there is no comprehensive privacy regulation in Tasmania,” she said.

“Rather, privacy protection is fragmented across different laws that protect different types of privacy in different circumstances.” 

 Principal Research Fellow Dr Rebecca Bradfield said Multiple submissions raised concerns about the privacy risks associated with emerging technologies such as facial recognition and AI.

“The Institute agrees with the findings of the Commonwealth Privacy Act Review and the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights and Technology project that the risks associated with these technologies justify reforms to privacy legislation,” Dr Bradfield said. 

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