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Privacy tackles technology growth

TECHNOLOGY doesn’t have to be pitted against privacy, says Federal Privacy Commissioner Malcolm Crompton.

Mr Crompton said that, while new technologies such as mobile phones and the Internet offered obvious benefits, they also allowed buying habits, entertainment preferences and aspects of people’s personal lives to be tracked and sold to interested organisations.

“To take advantage of new technology while maintaining desired levels of privacy will involve a mix of approaches including market forces, legislation, consumer education and privacy enhancing technology,” Mr Crompton said.

He said the Office of Privacy was ready to implement new legislation.

The Office of Privacy recently launched Guidelines on Work-place Email, Web Browsing and Privacy.

“The key to a successful email and web browsing policy in the workplace is that there are no surprises,” he said.

“If people know the rules from the outset, problems should be minimised.

“I encourage employers to draft and circulate – to all staff – an email and Internet use policy.

“Employers also need to be aware there are downsides to monitoring employee emails.

“The most common problem is that monitoring email is intrinsically invasive and there is impact on staff morale and productivity.

“I strongly urge public and private sector organisations to look at and implement the email use and web browsing guidelines issued by the Office,” he said.

The guidelines have been welcomed by the Australian Information Industry Association.

“The AIIA is also pleased to hear that the Privacy Bill for the private sector will be introduced to Parliament in coming weeks,” a spokesperson said.

A copy of the guidelines are available on the Internet at www.privacy.gov.au/issues/p7_4html

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