Who does this affect? Businesses and Commonwealth and ACT government agencies and bodies that collect, use, store or disclose personal information, including names, e-mail addresses and other information about customers and clients.
Significant changes to the Privacy Act
Recent changes to the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) will have a significant impact on how private sector organisations and Commonwealth government agencies and bodies may collect, use, store and disclose personal information.
Personal information is information or an opinion about an identified individual or an individual who is reasonably identifiable. It can include things like names, e-mail addresses, photos, phone numbers, medical records, bank account details, information and opinions about what customers like and details about where individuals live and work.
You need to start thinking about the changes now
Other changes to the Privacy Act
Other changes to the Privacy Act that will come into effect in March 2014 include:
- a new consolidated set of Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) that will cover both private sector organisations and Commonwealth agencies and bodies
- a requirement to develop and implement a privacy ‘compliance program’ to ensure compliance with the APPs and proper handling of privacy complaints
- new, more restrictive requirements for direct marketing
- tighter restrictions around disclosing personal information to overseas entities, including to IT storage and cloud computing providers; and
- significantly increased investigation and enforcement powers for the Privacy Commissioner. Amongst other new powers, the Commissioner will be able to audit both private sector organisations and Commonwealth agencies to check they are handling and storing personal information in accordance with the new APPs. The Privacy Commissioner recently said that he won’t be taking a ‘softly-softly approach’ to privacy investigations. All entities subject to the Privacy Act should take steps now to ensure compliance.
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