Privacy strengthened in Australia
The Australian Privacy Principles come into force on 12 March. The APPs extend coverage of privacy laws to most business with turnover of $3 million or more.
Fines of $1.7 million are possible for breaches.
Australian Privacy Principles
The Privacy Act now includes a set of 13 new harmonised privacy principles. The APPs regulate personal information handling by the federal government. In addition, the law significantly expands the number of private sector organisations covered.
The new Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) replace both the Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) that applied to Australian Government agencies and the National Privacy Principles (NPPs) that applied to some private sector organisations. The changes do not generally replace existing state of territory privacy legislation (eg Victoria & ACT) which will probably cause some confusion at the edges
A number of the APPs are quite different from the existing principles, including
- APP 7 -on the use and disclosure of personal information for the purpose of direct marketing, and
- APP 8 – on cross-border disclosure of personal information.
The OAIC gets teeth
The Privacy Act now includes greater powers for the OAIC which include:
- conducting assessments of privacy compliance for both Australian Government agencies and some private sector organisations.
- accepting enforceable undertakings
- seeking civil penalties in the case of serious or repeated breaches of privacy
In some ways Australia is just catching up with Europe, Canada and USA, but its worth noting that breaches can mean organisations get fines of up to $1.7 million. It is probably an understatement to say that this could have a serious impact on company finances as well as reputations.
One thing that is very good about these changes is that there is better alignment with good information security practice. We hope that these changes may help some organisations improve the state of their information security as they become privacy compliant.
For more information on the APPs and the OAIC’s APP guidelines, visit this link – Australian Privacy Principles.
Credit Reporting is changing too
The Privacy Act now includes new credit reporting provisions including:
- introduction of more comprehensive credit reporting, a simplified and enhanced correction and complaints process
- introduction of civil penalties for breaches of certain credit reporting provisions
- requiring credit providers to have an external dispute resolution scheme if they want to participate in the credit reporting scheme. The scheme must be recognised under the Privacy Act.
For a more detailed explanation of the credit changes see: Privacy business resource 3: Credit reporting — what has changed
A new mandatory credit reporting privacy code (CR code), created by the Australian Retail Credit Association ( OAIC’s Codes Register ) also starts on 12 March 2014.
We can help
We are helping government agencies and businesses assess the privacy impact of their activities in light of these legal changes. In particular, we have recently worked with the health and finance sectors in Queensland, the ACT and Victoria.
Please contact us at Resilience Outcomes for assistance.