Important recent amendments to the Privacy Act 1988

On 12 March 2014 some very important changes took place to the Privacy Act 1988 (the “Act”). The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Mr Timothy Pilgrim (the “APC”) in a press release on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 said that:

“These are the most significant changes to privacy laws in over 25 years and affect a large section of the community. The world has changed remarkably since the late 1980s when the Privacy Act was first introduced, and so the changes were required to bring our laws up-to-date with contemporary information handling practices, including global data flows.” (http://www.oaic.gov.au/news-and-events/media-releases/privacy-media-releases/privacy-laws-change-tomorrow). (The “press release”).

Whilst the laws are directed at businesses with a turnover of more than $3 million, or those who trade in personal information and in private health, we have heard that when Google searches websites, it looks for privacy statements on the website. As a law firm we have had a privacy policy from when we started; however, as a result of these changes, we have recently reviewed it and it is now published on our website.

In the press release the APC added:

“Being up front with customers and having good privacy practices in place makes good business sense. It is also consistent with community expectations. The OAIC’s recent community attitudes to privacy survey revealed that 96% percent of Australians feel that they should be informed about how their information is handled and protected. Over 60% have decided not to deal with the business due to concerns as to how their personal information will be used, and 23% of decided not to deal with a government agency.” (Our underlining)

This research confirms that Australians are concerned about their personal information. We recommend therefore, whether or not you are turning over more than $3 million, that you review your privacy policy, or create one for the first time.

There are 13 Australian Privacy Principles (“APP’s”) which have become the new requirements for adherence to the Act.

We have recently assisted a client in creating a privacy policy that complies with the APP’s, for a fixed fee and would like to help you in this important business development and/or risk management strategy.

Please give us a call to review or create your Privacy Policy on (07) 3220 0299.