Getting in on the Act

On May 18 2005, the attorney-general released the Report of the Federal Privacy Commissioner, Getting in on the Act: The Review of the Private Sector Provisions of the Privacy Act 1988, which examined whether the private sector provisions, are meeting their stated objective of creating a comprehensive national scheme for the treatment of personal information by private sector organisations. The privacy commissioner concluded that the private sector provisions have worked well for business and there is considerable support for them, albeit those representing consumer and privacy groups were less satisfied. The report contains 85 recommendations and proposals for changes to the Privacy Act, the National Privacy Principles and the OFPC Guidelines. While the OFPC can make changes to its Guidelines immediately, none of the findings in the report appear to be of such seriousness that they will stimulate urgent legislative reform. There are very useful comments made in relation to the lack of uniformity in both state and federal privacy legislation. Currently, each of the nine jurisdictions in Australia has slightly different privacy legislation. The report indicates that the overwhelming majority of submissions favoured consistency between the jurisdictions. The privacy commissioner has recommended that a process be established through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to ensure ongoing Australian and State and Territory cooperation. For further information contact Sean Larkan, managing partner 9429 7482. Minter Ellison

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