MP’s Bill Step in the Right Direction

MP Sue Moroney has proposed a Privacy Amendment Bill, which would enact many of the Law Commission’s recommendations by strengthening the powers of the Privacy Commissioner by empowering her office to issue compliance notices and conduct privacy audits of public and private sector agencies where this is warranted. The current complaints-driven process has been criticised as it fails to address systemic privacy breaches not exposed by individual complaints while other breaches escape detection and investigation altogether. The risks to individuals of inappropriate use and disclosure of their personal information and of identity theft are compounded as a consequence. The Law Commission’s report also addresses several current mischiefs, such as cyber-bullying and application of the news media exemption from the Privacy Act to blogs. Especially pertinent is abuse, by individuals, of the so-called “personal use” exemption, which has allowed the posting online of much objectionable material about individuals. These matters are in urgent need of attention.

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