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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Law Week seminar updates privacy reviews

The Commissioners responsible for the review of privacy legislation - Professor Les McCrimmon (Australian Law Reform Commission) and Professor Michael Tilbury (NSW Law Reform Commission), spoke at a Law Week seminar on Monday at Parliament House in Sydney.

The current stage in the ALRC review is further information gathering and discussion with interested parties around the country. Over 290 submissions were received in response to the publication of the Issues Papers in December. The Commission's website provides plenty of information.

The NSW Commission review shares some common ground with the ALRC, and it has undertaken on behalf of both initial examination of whether a statutory right to take action for a breach of privacy should be introduced.

The Commission is about to publish an issues paper on the subject. Professor Tilbury (and Commission Chairman Justice James Wood), said that the absence of such a right was a major gap in Australian law. It's clear they think this should be addressed by legislative change rather than left to the courts to decide if such a common law right exists.

The problem is how to define the right, including what needs protection and what remedy should be available.

The NSW Commission is yet to commence its consultation process on review of NSW privacy legislation. At this stage it plans to publish an issues paper on this aspect of its terms of reference in September.

The NSW Commission's webpage will no doubt eventually have some useful information about what they are doing, but at this stage almost a year after receiving its terms of reference, they are the sum total of what's available.

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