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Friday, October 03, 2008

ALRC privacy proposals get the once over

The first conference to discuss the Australian Law Reform Commission Final Report on Australia's privacy laws and the discussion paper issued by the NSW Law Reform Commission on the associated NSW review was held yesterday, under the auspices of the Baker and McKenzie Cyberspace Law and Policy Center at the University of NSW.

I didn't get there but the Center posted the Program , with links to some papers and presentations.Graham Greenleaf and Nigel Waters provided an overview of some positives and many missed opportunities (paper), highlighted what they regard as weaknesses in the recommendations concerning review rights of decisions on complaints by the Privacy Commissioner( slides) and on data transfers outside Australia (slides). Former Privacy Commissioner Malcolm Crompton and Chris Connolly also also presented papers (Panel Session 4) on the latter issue.

Discussion of the cause of action (no papers posted yet) will be repeated in Melbourne on the evening of 8 October, and will include Matthew Ricketson of The Age- details here

Minister Faulkner outlined the steps and timetable for the Government's stage one response- looking at the building blocks of the revamped Privacy Act, namely the Unified Privacy Principles (or UPPs), credit reporting, health and new technologies-with work to be initiated by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet with other Federal government agencies, stakeholder consultations, including the state governments, and targeted seminars on credit reporting and health privacy issues. The Minister said he anticipated being in a position to address the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General on the Government’s views of the ALRC recommendations early in 2009. No mention yesterday of stage 2, with such meaty issues as the ALRC recommendations regarding, among many others, the proposed course of action for breach of privacy, and the removal of the exemption for political parties, apparently a long way down the track.

The main drift of the rest of his remarks was rapid technological change and the need to ensure appropriate consideration of privacy issues at the early stages of new ways of doing things not turning the mind to them as the last gasp.

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