Get ready for Privacy Act changes: Privacy Commissioner

Businesses, government agencies should review polices before March 2014, says Timothy Pilgrim.

With new Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) coming into law in March 2014, Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim says now is the time for organisations to start preparing by conducting a review of privacy policies.

The <i>Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012</i> was passed in Parliament on 29 November 2012. It updates the <i>Privacy Act 1988</i> and includes a number of reforms including the introduction of the APPs and changes to how personal information is handled, including when it can be used for direct marketing and sent overseas.

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Pilgrim has recommended that businesses and government agencies should review information collection notices, outsourcing arrangements and direct marketing practices including the availability of `opt out’ options.

“Over the coming months, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner [OAIC] will produce detailed guidance to assist businesses and agencies understand the impact of the reforms and make the necessary changes to their personal information handling practices,” he said in a statement.

Pilgrim added that the OAIC will conduct talks with industry bodies and consumer groups about some of the guidance documents.

Data privacy day

In addition, the OAIC will be celebrating Data Privacy Day on 28 January 2013. The internationally observed day is an effort to empower people to protect their privacy, control their digital footprint and escalate the protection of privacy/ data as everyone’s priority.

"In the age of big data, social media and cloud computing it is increasingly important that people think about the concept of privacy and what it means to them,” Pilgrim said.

“I am concerned that people aren’t considering the potential risks of disclosing too much personal information, particularly when engaging online.”

He added that organisations should also be vigilant about privacy, in particular, the protection of personal information entrusted to them by customers.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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