Privacy report makes little room for emerging trends

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Privacy report makes little room for emerging trends

While the Australian Law Reform Comission’s (ALRC) privacy recommendations are based around advances in technology, Gartner security analyst Andrew Walls believes they do little to address major developing trends like social networking.

The ALRC’s recommendations are meant to compensate for changes in mainstream technology since the original Privacy Act of 1983.

Walls believes that while the current report is a giant step for privacy laws, the commission left a lot to be desired when it comes to up and coming technologies.

“The law has definitely been due for an update and these recommendations go a long way to improve the act and bringing it into a more modern framework,” he said.

“Where I do think the commission has missed the boat is with areas where it could’ve taken the next logical step.”

“It’s hesitated from doing that in particular because of its reluctance to deal with the impact of software as a service, as realised in things like social networks, where people and businesses share personal information.”

To deal with some of these technologies, some of the recommendations call for more education for young people, who are savvier but perhaps less careful about what they post on social networking sites.

Walls believes the education addendum may simply be an easy solution for a medium that is still highly underdeveloped.

“Throwing more education at an issue doesn’t really deal with the issue from a regulatory perspective,” he said. “I think they shied away from that area, maybe because they didn’t see a way of solving it.”

“It’s very early days for most of this technology and its use and application in society and business. It’s good to be careful about, but I also think it’s a little weak to just say we need education about this and make young people behave how we want them to.”

“I don’t think that’s really grappling with the changes that are going on.”

Walls hopes the Government will take these new privacy issues into account before social networking technologies fully enter the business market and become the standard for online communication.

“I’m anticipating that over the next five to ten years, a lot of what we currently do through email and instant messaging will become embedded more in social network type of interaction where our email is being conducted through that online identities,” he said.

“So I think the commission has missed an opportunity to make a big step forward, and say “This is a new business model, this is a new way where Australian citizens want to use technology, and our laws need to advance to reflect that.”

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