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Privacy Awareness Week 2016 launches with UN Privacy Rapporteur challenging Australia to take lead in Asia-Pacific

Today the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy and the Australian Privacy Commissioner will address leaders from Australia’s government and business community to launch Privacy Awareness Week at the annual Business Breakfast in Sydney.

Professor Joe Cannataci will offer his global perspective on the future of big data, cyber security and privacy developments and the relationship between privacy and security.

‘Privacy is recognised as a fundamental right under international law as is freedom of expression. Every Australian should have a fair go at developing their personality,’ said Professor Cannataci. ‘I encourage Australia to take up my challenge to lead the Asia-Pacific region in protecting fundamental freedoms like privacy.’

The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, will provide a domestic perspective at the breakfast and outline his office’s priorities for the coming year.

‘We no longer need to debate if privacy is important, and can instead focus on the current and emerging challenges we need to discuss and resolve,’ said Commissioner Pilgrim.

‘My priority is protecting Australian's personal information in the digital age. In the coming year my office will be addressing these modern challenges by releasing guidance on big data, de-identification and the Internet of Things to help businesses and the wider community take privacy in their hands.’

‘I will also protect the privacy of everyday consumers by undertaking privacy assessments into consumer loyalty programs and releasing practical help for parents to protect their children’s privacy online.’

Privacy Awareness Week runs from 15 to 21 May 2016. It is an annual initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) forum. It is held every year to promote and raise awareness for privacy issues and the importance of protecting personal information.

Further information about resources and events for Privacy Awareness Week is available at You can join the conversation by following @OAICgov or #2016PAW.


The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has a range of regulatory responsibilities and powers under the Privacy Act 1988 and other legislation including the Freedom of Information Act 1982. The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim acts as the Australian Information Commissioner. Visit for further information about the OAIC.

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Note to media: Professor Cannataci and the Australian Privacy Commissioner are available for interview during Privacy Awareness Week. Photography and speech transcripts for the Business Breakfast in Sydney are available on request.

Media contact: Alison Wares                      0407 663 968             


Professor Joe Cannataci, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy

Portrait photo of Joe CannataciProfessor Cannataci was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy in July 2015. He is the Head of the Department of Information Policy & Governance at the Faculty of Media & Knowledge Sciences of the University of Malta. He also holds the Chair of European Information Policy & Technology Law within the Faculty of Law at the University of Groningen where he co-founded the Security, Technology & e-Privacy Research Group.

For several years now he has been a Full Professor in an adjunct capacity at ECU's Security Research Institute in Perth WA and is a member of the International Advisory Board of the Research Unit for the Study of Society, Law and Religion at the University of Adelaide SA.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. It is the general name of the council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address specific country situations or global issues. Special Rapporteurs are not UN staff and work on a voluntary basis. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

The Australian Government has a standing open invitation for Special Rapporteurs to visit Australia. Prof Cannataci will not be conducting an official country mission during his time in Australia this May, but rather an awareness raising visit, in line with item (e) of his mandate from the UN Human Rights Council resolution 28/16.

Timothy Pilgrim PSM, Australian Privacy Commissioner

Portrait photo of Timothy PilgrimTimothy Pilgrim was appointed as Acting Australian Information Commissioner from 20 July 2015. Prior to this, Timothy was Australian Privacy Commissioner (2010-2015) and Deputy Privacy Commissioner (1998-2010). Before joining the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, Timothy held senior management positions in a range of Australian Government agencies, including the Small Business Program within the Australian Taxation Office and the Child Support Agency.

Timothy has made a significant contribution to the field of privacy in Australia. His achievements include involvement in developing the private sector provisions of the Privacy Act 1988, which included widespread consultation with community, business and government organisations. He also played a key role in implementing the private sector provisions, which took effect on 21 December 2001. More recently, Timothy has led the implementation of the 2014 reforms to the Privacy Act, the most significant reforms to the Act since its commencement. In doing so he worked closely with businesses, consumer groups and Australian Government agencies to build awareness of privacy rights and obligations, and ensure compliance with the new requirements.

Professor Cannataci and Commissioner Pilgrim are available for interview during Privacy Awareness Week (15-21 May).

Media contact: Alison Wares, 0407 663 968,