The House of Representatives Approves Sweeping Changes to the Privacy Act

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the changes would give power back to consumers over the way in which organisations used their personal information. They would simplify credit reporting and strengthen enforcement powers of the Privacy Commissioner, who would be able to apply for civil penalty orders of up to $220,000 for individuals and up to $1.1 million for companies. However, a Labor-dominated House of Representatives committee said the proposed changes were so complex stakeholders found them difficult to understand. A report by the standing committee on social policy and legal affairs said the amendments were intended to reduce complexity, but the committee was concerned by “the number of submissions that suggest significant confusion around the new provisions”. It called for an education program because it was worried about whether the public would be able to easily understand new privacy rights and obligations.

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