New technology pushes privacy law change

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New technology pushes privacy law change

Advancements in information technology warrant changes in privacy laws, said the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC).

Today it launched a new report that recommends 295 changes to privacy laws and practices for government agencies, businesses, and the private sector.

Despite the fact that the federal Privacy Act was only introduced into law about 20 years ago, the amount of technological changes in recent years mean updates for old polices.

“[The Privacy Act] was introduced before the advent of supercomputers, the Internet, mobile phones, digital cameras, e-commerce, sophisticated surveillance devices and social networking websites- all of which challenges our capacity to safeguard our sensitive, personal information,” said ALRC president David Weisbrot.

The ALRC submitted the report to the Government, who will then consider the recommendations in two different stages over the course a couple of years.

One key recommendation is a statutory cause of action for individuals who believe they have suffered an invasion of privacy, particularly in cases where a person’s home life or private communications have been compromised by unlawful surveillance.

Privacy inquiry commissioner Les McCrimmon said particularly the advent of smaller and higher resolution cameras have solidified the need for stronger privacy laws.

He said on the surface, sites like Google Street View have the potential to infringe on the privacy recommendations, though the precautions Google has taken currently keep it safe from any statutory action.

Other recommendations in the report include data breach notification, regulations to health record privacy, cross border data flows, and education for children and young people about the importance of online security.

The full ALRC report can be found here.
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