The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR) and the complexity of the modern privacy landscape were the key discussion points for the Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) Business Breakfast yesterday morning.
To set the scene, the acting Australian Information Commissioner and acting Privacy Commissioner, Angelene Falk, opened the event and celebrated 30 years of the Australian Privacy Act 1988.
“As we reflect on this 30th anniversary of the Australian Privacy Act, it’s clear that the significant role privacy and data protection plays in businesses, government agencies, and for individuals, has rapidly evolved in just a few short decades,” said the acting Commissioner. “In 2018, privacy and data protection must be a central part of the way you do business.”
With the EU’s GDPR commencing in just over two weeks, Ms Falk emphasised the need for businesses to foster accountability and transparency as a mechanism to drive consumer trust. Privacy-by-design, and clear and transparent information handling practices must be at the heart of all projects that involve personal information.
Tying all these ideas together was keynote speaker, Sheila FitzPatrick, Principal, International Data Privacy Lead at elevenM. Discussing the GDPR and beyond, Ms FitzPatrick reflected that “the world would not end on May 25” and that the GDPR is just another stage in the evolution of privacy regulation — not a revolution. The GDPR has delivered global recognition of the importance of the fundamental right to privacy and, according to Ms FitzPatrick, is currently the ‘gold standard’ for data protection. Her advice to businesses and agencies was to embrace all privacy laws and methodically build privacy compliance foundations, such as by identifying and assessing business functions and data needs. Organisations should be able to turn privacy compliance into a competitive advantage, solidifying reputation and community trust.
To focus the lens on the modern reality of privacy practice in Australia, former Australian Privacy Commissioner Malcolm Crompton led an enthusiastic panel discussion. Joining Mr Crompton was CEO of Extensia, Emma Hossack; Founder and CEO of Fintech agencies InFact Decisions and Verifier, Lisa Schutz; and Deloitte’s National Lead Partner for Cyber Risk Strategy and Governance, Tommy Viljoen.
The panel were quick to engage on ideas surrounding customers’ choice and control over their personal information – agreeing that consumers will choose to engage with companies that are clear about how they will use personal data. The panel stressed that businesses need to assess privacy risks as societal changes are happening faster than regulation. The use of ethical data frameworks was promoted as a strategic opportunity for businesses to show consumers respect for their personal information and to take a privacy-by-design approach to privacy management.
If there was one key take-away from the morning, it was that — no matter the regulation — privacy communication needs to be simple, clear and engage the consumer. In 2018 it will be consumer trust that enables the success of new data initiatives.
Privacy Awareness Week provides a great opportunity for organisations to recognise the importance of good privacy practice and to promote the practical steps they take to minimise the privacy risks to their customers’ personal information.
Privacy Awareness Week runs until May 19 and there is still time to sign up to be a supporter and build on greater public trust.
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