Mixed Reaction to Improved Privacy Protection

There has been a mixed reaction from the ICT industry to amendments to the Privacy Act with some organizations welcoming the changes while others say more work needs to done on privacy issues. The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012 legislation was passed in Parliament and will give privacy commissioner Timothy Pilgrim more powers, including the right to seek civil penalties in the case of serious breaches of privacy. The legislation also permits the commissioner to conduct assessments of privacy performance for both Australian government agencies and private companies. The reforms introduce a single set of privacy principles called the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) and a number of changes to how personal information is handled, including when it can be used for direct marketing and sent overseas. The Association for Data-driven Marketing & Advertising (ADMA)’s CEO Jodie Sangster welcomed the amendments but said she was disappointed that the opportunity to create a model privacy framework for the digital era had been missed. Organizations that collect or hold information in Australia will need to change their practices to comply with the Privacy Bill before commencement in 15 months’ time.

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