Privacy law reform report card

Today marks the first anniversary of the most significant changes to Australian privacy laws in over 25 years. On 12 March 2014, changes to the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) commenced.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s (OAIC) focus over the past year has been on developing guidance and working with organisations and agencies to ensure compliance.

‘Over the last year we have focused on working with business, government agencies and the wider community to ensure that everyone has the tools and information they need to understand and implement the changes,’ said the Australian Privacy Commissioner, Mr Timothy Pilgrim.

‘I’ve been particularly pleased with how organisations and agencies have responded positively to the challenge of implementation. This is recognition that good privacy practices are good for business, particularly in building customer trust’.

The changes included the introduction of a new set of unified privacy principles, the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs), changes to the credit reporting provisions and new enforcement powers for the Commissioner.

Over the past 12 months, the OAIC has:

  •          received 4016 privacy complaints (a 43% increase on the previous 12 months)
  •          received 14,064 privacy enquiries
  •          received 104 voluntary data breach notifications
  •          commenced 13 privacy assessments

Since 12 March 2014, the OAIC has encouraged organisations and agencies to focus on being open and transparent with customers about how their personal information is managed, a new requirement in the APPs. The Commissioner has commenced a targeted assessment program of a selection of online privacy policies, with more assessments focusing on APP compliance to come in 2015. 

‘For the next twelve months our focus will be on governance, assisting organisations and agencies to build a culture of privacy, and ensuring that organisations and agencies are proactive in meeting their compliance requirements. My message for all organisations and agencies is: it is more effective, and ultimately cheaper, to embed privacy in day-to-day processes than it is to respond to issues such as data breaches as they arise’, said Mr Pilgrim.

The OAIC has been undertaking privacy law reform work during a period of significant change within its own structure, as foreshadowed by the Government in the 2014 Budget.

‘The implementation of such significant privacy reforms could not have been achieved without the commitment of a dedicated and skilled group of staff who worked tirelessly to ensure that businesses, agencies and the OAIC were prepared,’ said Mr Pilgrim.

Media contact

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Sarah Croxall              0407 663 968              media@oaic.gov.au

 

Privacy Awareness Week

Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) will be held from 3–9 May 2015.

The OAIC will release a Privacy management framework during Privacy Awareness Week. This framework will assist entities meet their compliance and accountability requirements in the most efficient manner — through a top-down commitment to embed a culture of privacy and establish robust and effective privacy practices.

PAW is an initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities forum (APPA) and is the primary privacy awareness campaign of the Asia Pacific region.

The theme for 2015 is Privacy everyday. Privacy should be an essential component of everyday life, including transactions such as internet banking, social media and online shopping. The theme emphasises the need for organisations to embed privacy practices into business as usual processes, and for individuals and the community to think about how to protect privacy in their everyday lives.

To sign up as a Privacy Awareness Week partner please email corporate@oaic.gov.au

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