Instead of standing aggressively behind the status quo, dressed in the cloak of the Fourth Estate, Mr Keating said industry and profession leaders needed to talk more about responsibility, more about the importance of ethics, more about improvement in the standards of journalism in all respects, including respect for privacy. He said proposed changes to privacy laws announced recently by Minister of State Ludwig to allow for financial penalties for Federal government agencies and big business found to seriously breach privacy principles is likely to concentrate minds on the importance of privacy a little more than hitherto. Media organisations currently enjoy an exemption from the Privacy Act on condition they accept self regulatory schemes. However the schemes are largely ineffectual particularly when it comes to penalties and enforcement. The industry needs to consider whether thrashing serious breaches of privacy with a warm lettuce should continue to be all that their self-regulatory systems can deliver.
With digital surveillance, location tracking and genetic tracing becoming commonplace, there is a very firm case for the law to allow people to protect thprivacy. It is a fundamental human right…the Australian Law Reform Commission proposal for a new statutory right of privacy, properly word is a sophisticated idea worthy of serious debate. To dismiss even the need to address the issue-the need to have a thoughtful and comprehensive debate – doesn’t seem to be in keeping with the openness and plurality of perspectives that media freedom should be about’.