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Annual report highlights milestones for privacy and information access in 2017–18

Significant changes to privacy regulations and heightened awareness of information handling and access issues have been the hallmarks of 2017–18, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) annual report shows.

Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said the OAIC’s work across the reporting period has continued to enhance transparency and accountability for the community.

“Thirty years on from the introduction of the Privacy Act, the past year should also be remembered as a milestone in the privacy landscape,” Ms Falk said.

“The OAIC has played a key role in implementing these changes, from implementing the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme to preparing agencies for the new Australian Government Agencies Privacy Code.

“Our annual report demonstrates the importance of the OAIC’s work in guiding organisations and the community through these reforms, which coincided with the start of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.”

Ms Falk said the OAIC would continue to adapt and respond to a changing data landscape in order to prevent, detect and remedy privacy and information access issues for the community.

“In 2017–18 we provided more advice across the community, government and the economy than ever before. This includes our ongoing engagement with initiatives such as the Consumer Data Right, credit reporting and the digital platforms inquiry, and targeted privacy assessments of government and business. We also initiated investigations in response to privacy incidents of significant community concern.

“We are focused on enabling data and information sharing to drive both innovation and public participation in government processes. This is underpinned by our work to promote better protection of personal information and proactive publishing of government-held information.

“Over the past year we have worked as part of the Open Government Forum to develop the 2018–20 Open Government National Action Plan and implement the 2016–18 Plan. We continue to provide practical tools, guidance and networks to support agencies’ freedom of information (FOI) functions and the management of government-held information as a national resource.”

Key statistics

In 2017–18 the OAIC:

  • drafted 29 submissions on legislative proposals and other issues such as open banking and privacy in the digital age
  • conducted 21 privacy assessments in areas such as identity verification, telecommunications, digital health and government
  • received 305 reports under the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme, compared to 114 voluntary reports in 2016–17
  • received 19,407 privacy enquiries and 1,931 FOI enquiries, an overall increase of 13% on 2016–17
  • received 2,947 privacy complaints, up 18% on 2016–17, raising issues such as use or disclosure, security and access to personal information
  • closed 2,766 privacy complaints (up 11% on 2016-17) in an average time of 3.7 months, down from 4.7 months in 2016-17.
  • conducted 21 Commissioner-initiated investigations into potential privacy breaches
  • received 801 applications for FOI reviews, up 27% on 2016–17
  • finalised 610 FOI reviews (up 18% on 2016-17) in an average time of 6.7 months, up from 6.2 months in 2016–17
  • received 62 complaints about the handling of FOI matters
  • raised awareness of privacy and access to information through our annual campaigns for Privacy Awareness Week and Right to Know Day
  • hosted the 47th Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities Forum.

Media contact:       Zoe Allebone           0407 663 968 

About the OAIC

The OAIC is an independent statutory agency with a range of regulatory responsibilities and powers under the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010, the Privacy Act 1988 and the Freedom of Information Act 1982. It is headed by Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk.

Annual Report 2017–18

The OAIC’s 2017–18 Annual Report highlights key achievements and performance outcomes for our privacy and information access functions.

Corporate Plan 2018–19

The OAIC Corporate Plan for 2018–19 outlines key priorities, planned activities and goals for the agency in protecting and promoting privacy and information access rights and assisting entities to understand and comply with their obligations.