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Privacy in the spotlight this week

Tomorrow marks the end of Privacy Awareness Week 2011, but the Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim says that privacy issues are set to remain in the spotlight.

"This year Privacy Awareness Week has certainly confirmed that privacy is an important issue. Over the last week, privacy issues have been making headlines almost every day, unfortunately not always for the right reasons," Mr Pilgrim said.

"The Week saw a record number of ‘Privacy Awareness Week partners', ranging from multinational corporations and government agencies through to charities and consumer associations. Over 80 businesses and agencies promoted privacy rights and responsibilities on their websites, blogs, intranets, newsletters and through training programs."

"During the week we reminded people of the simple steps they can take to protect their personal information, including by checking their privacy settings, reading privacy policies, and asking organisations why they need to collect their personal information and what they will do with it," he said.

Privacy Awareness Week 2011 was celebrated internationally with members of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) joining together to promote awareness about privacy issues across Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Hong Kong, Mexico and Canada.

APPA Members collaborated to produce an animation about the privacy pitfalls of social media and an e-survey available in English, Spanish, Korean and Chinese. People are encouraged to take part in the survey and share their experience with privacy and social media.

"We are delighted with the number of people who have taken the survey and viewed the animation, and look forward to sharing the survey results later in the year. The results will also assist us to develop effective educational materials in the future," Mr Pilgrim said.

As Privacy Awareness Week draws to a close, Mr Pilgrim reminded businesses and agencies that they have serious obligations under the law to protect the valuable personal information that they hold about their customers.

"This obligation is ongoing and must be taken very seriously. There is no room for complacency," he warned.

The Privacy Awareness Week survey is open until 31 May and can be accessed at www.privacyawarenessweek.org.

Media contact:     Leila Daniels    media@oaic.gov.au     0407663 968