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Australians continue to exercise information rights: OAIC Annual Report 2016–17 released

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has released its Annual Report for 2016–17 — highlighting its proactive and engaged approach to privacy and FOI regulation.

The OAIC continued to deal with a significant workload in its privacy regulator activities, ensuring that businesses and agencies are better placed to meet their responsibilities to communities.

‘Developments in technological, social, commercial and government service delivery environments continue to drive increasing community and professional interest in privacy and privacy governance,’ said Timothy Pilgrim, Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner.

‘This is reflected in the office receiving 17 per cent more privacy complaints than last year.’

But there was also a noticeable increase in businesses showing a commitment to privacy – with a record 369 businesses and agencies signing up to be Privacy Awareness Week Partners – a 49% increase on 2016.  A more-than-tripling of mainstream media attention for Privacy Week compared to 2016 also demonstrated privacy as a mainstream community and consumer concern.

Australians continue to be early-adopters of new technologies, many of which are reliant on personal information. But Australians also perceive greater risks in interacting with businesses online, and transparency is central to building their trust — as shown in the 2017 Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey.

‘That Survey shows 58 per cent of Australians have avoided a business because of privacy concerns and 44 per cent said they had chosen not to use a mobile app for the same reason. These findings reinforce the view that a successful data-driven economy needs a strong foundation in privacy,’ said Mr Pilgrim.

The office also made progress in resolving more FOI matters — receiving 24 per cent more Information Commissioner reviews, the largest number of applications received by the Office since its establishment in November 2010 — and increasing the number of reviews finalised by 13% compared to last year.

‘It is interesting to note that 82 per cent of FOI matters received by government departments and agencies are dominated by requests from individuals to access their own information,’ said Mr Pilgrim.

‘While I acknowledge that some are complex cases, it is in the interest, and the efficiency, of agencies to promote and support the right to access one’s own personal information held by the agency and to handle these requests administratively where at all possible.’

The report also outlined how the OAIC has been preparing businesses and agencies for the 2018 implementation of both the Australian Public Service (APS) Privacy Governance Code and the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme.

‘These two important measures will jointly strengthen Australia’s privacy governance in both public and private sectors — and represent the most significant updates to our national privacy regulation since 2014.’

Visit Annual Report 2016–17

For further information about the OAIC, please visit www.oaic.gov.au or follow @OAICgov.

Background

Annual Report 2016–17

The OAIC’s Annual Report highlights our key achievements and performance outcomes for our privacy and FOI functions.

Corporate Plan 2017–18

The OAIC’s Corporate Plan highlights our planned activities and goals for the coming year and shows how we will protect the privacy and FOI rights of individuals, while assisting entities to understand and meet their obligations. The plan also includes an explanation of the current FOI and privacy environment. 

For more information about the OAIC’s outlook and goals for the coming year visit Corporate Plan 2017–18.

About the OAIC

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has a range of regulatory responsibilities and powers under the Privacy Act 1988 and Freedom of Information Act 1982.

The OAIC is headed by the Australian Information Commissioner and Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim

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Media contact: Alison Sweeney        0407 663 968           media@oaic.gov.au