Privacy compliance and identity security winners: Federal Budget 06-07

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) has been allocated an additional $6.5 billion over four years to assist Australian businesses to comply with the Privacy Act.

The Federal Budget 2006/07 announcement follows calls from business and industry for greater assistance to meet compliance.

Attorney General Philip Ruddock said consultation with the private sector will be a key element of ensuring information and guidance materials meet the needs of Australian industry.

The materials will provide guidance on how to improve and consolidate privacy practices within organizations.

As well as devising strategies the OPC will develop business specific tools to help business undertake their own internal compliance activities.

"The increased resources to assist businesses to meet their obligations will ease the regulatory burden and should increase consumer confidence in the handling of personal information by private sector organizations," Ruddock said.

Identity security was also a key item in the budget with the minister also announcing the rollout of a national Document Verification Service (DVS) and the establishment of Identity Security Strike Teams.

Identify fraud and theft costs the community an estimated $1 billion every year.

The federal government has made available $28.3 million for the DVS rollout based on prototype services trialled over the past 12 months.

The service will allow authorized government agencies to check key identity documents applying for benefits and services and will support a new $1.1 billion smartcard initiative for welfare services.

Ruddock said the DVS will allow online and real-time verification to ensure document details are accurate including a cross checking function to detect stolen or fraudulent documents.

The DVS will check Australian passports, the Health Services access card, citizenship certificates and drivers' licences.

Additionally, three new Australian Federal Police-led Identity Strike Teams, located in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, will be formed at a cost of $19.6 million over four years and is part of the Australasian Identity Crime Policing Strategy.

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