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Australia: AG to introduce reforms to Privacy Act in August 2024

On May 2, 2024, the Attorney General (AG), Hon Mark Dreyfus, announced plans to introduce legislation to overhaul the Privacy Act 1988 (No. 119, 1988) (as amended) (the Privacy Act) in August 2024. In a speech at the Privacy by Design Awards 2024, the AG confirmed that they would introduce the reforms following a request from the Prime Minister.

The AG explained that a review of the Privacy Act began in 2020 and that the Government had published a response to the review in 2023.

Reforms to the Privacy Act

The AG highlighted that the Government was reviewing several proposed reforms to the Privacy Act that would:

  • make privacy notices clearer, concise, and easily understandable;
  • introduce a test to ensure that the handling of personal information by entities is justifiable;
  • require more entities to conduct assessments for high-risk privacy activities, such as using facial recognition or biometric identification technologies;
  • require disclosure of personal information used in significant automated decisions and provide rights to individuals to understand these decision-making processes;
  • introduce a statutory tort for serious privacy invasions, extending protection to scenarios outside the current Privacy Act;
  • allow individuals to directly seek legal remedies for privacy breaches; and
  • require entities to specify data retention periods in their privacy policies.

You can read the speech here.