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Australia: OAIC releases statement regarding Privacy Act review discussion paper submission

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner ('OAIC') released, on 18 January 2022, a statement welcoming the proposals put forth by the Discussion Paper released by the Australian Attorney-General as part of its review of the Privacy Act 1988 (No. 119, 1988) (as amended) ('the Privacy Act'). In particular, the OAIC highlighted that, in response to the Discussion Paper, to which it had previously confirmed they would respond to as part of the consultation process, it has made detailed recommendations which draw on the agency's regulatory experience about how these potential reforms would operate in practice. Furthermore, the OAIC stated that its recommendations seek to ensure Australia's privacy regime continues to operate effectively for all and promotes innovation and growth by:

  • protecting consumers from individual and collective privacy risks and harms;
  • empowering consumers to take control of their personal information through new rights and enhanced transparency requirements;
  • enhancing the framework of organisational accountability and personal information handling to ensure regulated entities are confident to innovate and use data within the boundaries of the law, informed by community expectations;
  • establishing a regulatory framework that supports proactive and targeted regulation, strategic enforcement, efficient and more direct avenues of redress for individuals, and appropriate deterrents against mishandling of personal information; and
  • supporting global interoperability and minimising friction to ensure consistency of protection across the economy and to protect personal information wherever it flows.

Moreover, the OAIC noted that a key theme in its submission is that strengthening accountability measures for organisations handling personal information will help protect and empower consumers, while promoting innovation and a thriving digital economy. In addition, the OAIC highlighted that, its submission also recommends measures to support the agency in pursuing significant privacy risks and systemic non-compliance through regulatory action. Finally, the OAIC stated that it has recommended changes to the Privacy Act enforcement framework to provide the OAIC with a greater range of effective tools to uphold the law and respond to emerging threats in a proportionate and pragmatic way.

You can read the press release here and access the OAIC's submission here.

UPDATE (22 December 2022) 

AG confirms overhaul of Privacy Act in 2023

The Attorney General ('AG') of Australia, Mark Dreyfus, announced, via Twitter, on 20 December 2022, that his department has received the review of the Privacy Act. In particular, the AG stated that Australia's privacy laws are out of date and not fit for purpose in our digital age, noting that the review will now be carefully considered in preparation for an overhaul of the Privacy Act in 2023. 

You can read the tweet here