A recurring criticism of Australian privacy law has been that the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (the Act) lacked any real bite – the enforcement powers of the privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner, were limited. However, recent amendments to the Act, which introduced a new set of privacy principles, have increased the Commissioner’s enforcement powers. Employers should familiarise themselves with the changes in order to ensure they are compliant with the new regime.

Background

On 12 March 2014, significant amendments to the Act came into operation. The changes affect all private sector organisations and government agencies covered by the Act, which will include most Australian employers except for “small businesses” with less than $3 million in annual turnover.

In brief, the Act deals with how organisations are to manage “personal information”. The scheme of the Act works by subjecting organisations that it covers to a series of “privacy principles” that govern how personal information is to be collected, stored, handled and used.
Continue Reading Changes to privacy law: does the “toothless tiger” finally have some bite?