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Privacy: The current situation

29 Jul 2008

This briefing paper looks at the development of personal information privacy law in New South Wales. It examines the historical context in which privacy emerged as a significant concern that warranted statutory protection and regulation.

The paper commences by identifying the imprecise nature of concepts of privacy and difficulties in providing a comprehensive definition. Consideration is then given to the different categories of privacy that combine to give the overall theme of privacy character and content.

Following on from this, the paper briefly touches on the obligations under international law relating to privacy and how that, together with domestic issues, had an influence on privacy legislation in Australia.

The paper then provides a brief examination of the Privacy Act, including the Information Protection Principles, the code that forms the basis of privacy law in New South Wales. It then turns to the possible development of the tort of privacy at common law, with some reference to foreign jurisprudence and a possible statutory tort of privacy.

Some of the issues regarding the patchy and fragmented nature of the privacy regime in Australia are discussed before a brief assessment of new and emerging technologies that are potentially privacy-intrusive.

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