Review of Australian privacy law

18 Sep 2007

This law reform blueprint contains 301 proposals for overhauling Australia’s complex and costly privacy laws and practices. The ALRC proposes a single set of privacy principles for information-handling across all sectors and all levels of government, making it easier and less expensive for organisations to comply and much more simple for people to understand their rights.

The commission also seeks to ensure that personal information stored or processed overseas, as is now routine, has at least the same level of protection as is provided domestically. It proposes that any government agency or company that transfers personal information overseas without consent should remain accountable for any breach of privacy that occurs as a result of the transfer.

The ALRC also is proposing a new system of data breach notification and the removal of the exemption for political parties from the Privacy Act. Other key proposals include: introducing a new statutory cause of action where an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy has been breached; abolishing the fee for ‘silent’ telephone numbers; expanding the enforcement powers of the Privacy Commissioner; imposing civil penalties for serious breaches of the Act; and introducing a more comprehensive system of credit reporting.

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