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Commissioner calls for action as privacy concerns grow

Australians are concerned about online privacy, but are not using options already available to protect themselves. That’s the key finding from a national survey released today by the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner — who says both businesses and consumers “have work to do”.

The 2017 Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey, released for Privacy Awareness Week reveals that 69 per cent of Australians say they feel more concerned about their online privacy than they did five years ago, and 83 per cent believe privacy risks are greater online than offline. However, the survey also shows that Australians do not use existing privacy tools to protect themselves online as well as they could.

The Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, says both individual responsibility and better business practice have a role to play to ensure Australians get the best privacy protection.

‘It’s encouraging to see that Australians are alert to privacy risks. But we need to convert awareness into action, and use the options already available to us to protect our personal information.’

‘While 61 per cent of us check website security, our results found that over 65 per cent of Australians do not read privacy policies, and half do not regularly adjust privacy settings on social media, or clear their browsing history.’

‘These are options that we can all use to better protect our privacy. If you are shopping or socialising online I encourage you to take the time to protect your privacy first.’

‘For businesses, these results show there is still work to do to make privacy easy for customers to manage. Those long-winded privacy notices and complex settings need to be replaced by clear language and point-in-time notifications.’

‘Some are doing this well, but others need to lift their game, because our survey shows the majority of Australians have decided not to deal with a business due to privacy concerns.’

The Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey also reveals that one quarter of Australians have regretted sharing a social media post and over 26 per cent know someone who has been the victim of identity theft.

The survey found that Australians believe the biggest risks to privacy are:

  • Online services (including social media): 32 per cent
  • ID fraud and theft: 19 per cent
  • Data breaches and security: 17 per cent
  • Risks to financial data: 12 per cent.

The survey also found Australians are uncomfortable with businesses sharing their personal information with other organisations (79 per cent) and are concerned about organisations sending personal information overseas (93 per cent).

Download: Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey 2017.

Visit and join the conversation via #2017PAW or @OAICgov.


Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey

The OAIC’s Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey is a longitudinal study into public awareness of, and concern about, privacy. The survey has been conducted in various forms since 1990 and was last released in 2013.

The survey was conducted by Wallis Consulting Group on behalf of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, and involved 1,800 people participating via landline and mobile numbers or online panel interviews. Full details can be found in the report.

Basic tips for privacy protection

  1. Know your privacy rights and insist businesses take them seriously.
  2. Read privacy policies and notices.
  3. Use social media privacy settings to control what you share.
  4. Don’t give personal information unless you know how it will be used. Always ask why, how and who.
  5. Use strong passwords and change them regularly.

For more simple tips see our 10 Tips to Protect Privacy.

Privacy Awareness Week

Privacy Awareness Week (15 to 19 May 2017) is an annual initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities forum. It is held every year to promote and raise awareness of privacy issues and the importance of protecting personal information.

The OAIC encourages businesses and agencies to show their support for good privacy practice by becoming a Privacy Awareness Week partner. There are currently over 340 organisations signed up as a partner this year with more expected to join throughout the week.

For further information and to sign up as a partner, visit

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

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

The OAIC is headed by Timothy Pilgrim who is the Australian Information Commissioner and the Australian Privacy Commissioner. Commissioner Pilgrim is supported by a Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner Dispute Resolution, Assistant Commissioner Regulation & Strategy and the OAIC staff. Further information is available at

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Media contact: Alison Wares         M: 0407 663 968         E: