OAIC welcomes privacy law update to protect Australians’ personal information

26 July 2019
Tags: media release

The national privacy regulator today welcomed the Australian Government’s recognition that privacy laws must be strengthened to ensure they are fit for purpose in the digital age.

The Government has released a report from the Digital Platforms Inquiry led by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which includes a number of recommendations for stronger privacy protections.

Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said the changes will support people to make informed choices and hold organisations to account.

“Organisations entrusted with our personal information need to be more transparent and accountable in their handling of our data and their dealings with the public,” Commissioner Falk said.

“We also need the right safeguards and settings so that Australians can manage their privacy choices and exercise control.

“The changes recommended by the inquiry will strengthen our ability to protect personal information under the Privacy Act.

“These initiatives will also help close the gap between community expectations and privacy practices that fall short of these standards.”

The Government will finalise its response to the report following a 12-week public consultation. The report’s recommendations include a new binding Privacy Code for digital platforms and increased penalties for privacy breaches.

“The proposed Privacy Code for digital platforms should include specific requirements for notice and consent to allow people to make an informed choice about the use of their data,” Commissioner Falk said.

“In developing the Code, we’ll look at additional requirements for handling children’s data so that its collection, use and disclosure is minimised, particularly for targeted advertising and online profiling.

“In line with our submission, the report also recommends broader reform of Australian privacy law to ensure that measures to uphold our personal information rights remain effective in the digital environment.”

Other recommendations include:

  • stronger consent requirements weighted in favour of the consumer
  • a broader definition of personal information, including technical and location data
  • measures to require personal information to be erased on request
  • a direct right of action for individuals and a statutory cause of action for serious invasions of privacy

Commissioner Falk said a strong privacy framework underpins the public’s confidence in the use of their personal data to drive innovation and economic growth.

“Personal information is a critical input to the digital economy, and the measures recommended in this report are a significant step forwards in protecting our privacy rights while supporting growth in the digital sector and the broader economy.”