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Monday, August 25, 2008

Who knows about Privacy Awareness Week?

Who could cavil at the idea of Privacy Awareness Week, launched this very week by the various privacy commissioners? We could all benefit from a bit more awareness of the many and increasing challenges to our "right to be left alone". And some of the events such as recognition of achievement through the Federal Commissioner's Awards are a good thing.

I don't think Greens MLC Lee Rhiannon has any problem with the concept or the involvement of the office of the NSW Privacy Commissioner, but as she points out in this media release it all rings a bit hollow, given the state government's record on privacy protection:
"This Privacy Awareness Week there is little to celebrate when it comes to the NSW government's support individual's privacy...Poor privacy protection in NSW comes at a time when technological and administrative advancements and increased police powers pose significant threats to individual rights. In this internet age, NSW now has outdated privacy legislation overseen by a part-time Privacy Commissioner. Privacy NSW had its funding and staff slashed in 2003 and has never recovered, becoming little more than an answering phone. In the meantime the NSW government has introduced legislation that rings alarm bells for privacy, for example establishing a photo ID card, electronic health records and very weak workplace surveillance laws."
An illustration of Rhiannon's point perhaps is the lack of excitement about the week, or events for privacy awareness, on the NSW Privacy Commissioner's website

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