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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

NSW Privacy Commissioner has big task ahead

The NSW Government has finally made a permanent appointment of a Privacy Commissioner, after four years of short term acting appointments. Judge Ken Taylor, formerly of the District Court who also had a couple of years as Acting Head of The Health Care Complaints Commission, was appointed in December for a five year term.

It shouldn't take him long to work out that he has taken on a big task. NSW privacy legislation is in poor shape with so many holes it's hard to work out what the law is in some cases; nothing has been heard on this aspect of a NSW Law Reform Commission review established almost two years ago; the Privacy Commission is under resourced and little effort has been put into guidance and training. As for compliance within the NSW public sector, no one has had a close look since the privacy legislation came into force over seven years ago. The anecdotal evidence is that many areas of the public sector in NSW are significantly underdone in terms of awareness and application of privacy principles.

Good luck Judge. You may have the necessary stature and clout to give privacy issues some visibility here. The Attorney General's announcement of your appointment emphasised the complaint handling skills you bring to the task of mediating complaints. Like me, you will be intrigued by the fact that the Commission performance measure in this area is the number of matters resolved within - wait for it - 12 months!

Things are worse in NSW than this gloomy snapshot of the Federal privacy scene by Senator Stott Despoja published today in ONLINE opinion.

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