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Public Administration News  
Australian Government Urges Transparency in Citizen Data Privacy Handling
Source: futuregov.asia
Source Date: Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, ICT for MDGs
Country: Australia
Created: Mar 17, 2014

Crucial reforms to Australia’s Privacy Act 1988 come into action today (March 12) to better regulate the handling of personal information by Australian Government agencies and the private sector, including all private health service providers.


The changes include a new harmonised set of Australian Privacy Principles - replacing the two sets of principles that applied separately to the public and private sectors previously. Moreover, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) now has the power to conduct a privacy performance assessment and, in the case of serious or repeated breaches, seek civil penalties.


“These are the most significant changes to privacy laws in over 25 years and affect a large section of the community. The world has changed remarkably since the late 1980s when the Privacy Act was introduced and so the changes were required to bring our laws up to date with contemporary information handling practices, including global data flows,” explained Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim.


The new laws require government agencies and businesses to be more transparent about how they handle personal information. Organisations have to clearly express and update their privacy policies about the way they handle personal information.


A recent survey on community attitudes to privacy by OAIC revealed that 23 per cent have not dealt with a government agency because of concerns on how their personal data will be used.


Pilgrim added that the OAIC’s focus in the following months “will be on working with entities to ensure that they understand the new requirements and have the systems in place to meet them”.

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