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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Professor nails the privacy case

A series of ticks for points made by Professor of Law at the University of NSW George Williams in an opinion piece in today's Sydney Morning Herald. To summarise, in his words:
  • Australian law is in a poor state when it comes to protecting our privacy.
  • Unfortunately, the federal government has gone about this reform in the wrong way.....
  • The current debate needs a reality check.
  • .. a right to privacy could have a chilling effect on freedom of speech. 
  • But the problem can be overcome, and has been in other nations such as the US and Canada. Following the same path, Australian law should limit compensation to serious violations. Privacy must also be balanced against the need to publish material in the public interest and freedom of expression and of the press.
  • Despite the focus on the media, a right to privacy will have a greater impact elsewhere. The real problem lies with serious breaches of privacy by large corporations, and as a result of new technologies. 
  • .. the.. debate has concerned how a right to privacy might go too far, without also recognising its limits. .. the right may only be invoked in a few extreme cases...
  •  When it comes to one of the largest problems of privacy in Australia today - people posting their own intimate and potentially damaging information online - the solution will lie in education and not new laws.

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