4 February 2021

Privacy in focus: A new beginning

Welcome to our new blog series, “Privacy in focus”. With the review of the Privacy Act currently under way, this series will outline and explain the key concepts under the microscope, and explore solutions to current privacy challenges. In this first post, we outline what you can expect from the series.

The notion that we must improve the protection of privacy in the digital age has universal appeal. In a highly polarised world, where consensus rarely feels within reach, that is no small thing.

For all its conveniences, the rapid and widescale digitisation of our economies has contributed to an environment in which individuals frequently find themselves vulnerable to abuses of their personal information. In the face of these dangers, established regulatory approaches and business strategies for data handling and protection fall short of what’s required to engender widespread trust.

So it’s little wonder that Australia, like jurisdictions around the world, is looking more intently at its privacy framework, via a comprehensive review of the Privacy Act. The Act once provided a solid foundation for privacy protection, but unprecedented technological change and the aforementioned threats to privacy invite a closer look at its operation and objectives.

In this series, our goal is to look more closely at the specific questions and concepts being considered by the review. We want to foster a deeper understanding of why these foundational concepts are fundamental to “good privacy” and the reform options being contemplated in light of the realities of the modern economy.

Among the topics we will dive into are:

  • The definition of personal information
  • The durability of concepts like notice and consent
  • Organisational accountability for privacy
  • A direct right of action for privacy
  • The privacy of children and vulnerable people
  • The validity of today’s exemptions to the Privacy Act

We may uncover further topics as the series develops.

In our travels as practitioners, we know many businesses are committed to the privacy of their customers. However many fall afoul of the gap opening up between the need to pursue data-driven business strategies for competitive reasons and regulatory frameworks that aren’t fit-for-purpose for this digitally-driven economy.

Our hope is that the reform process goes some way to closing this gap, for the benefit of individuals and businesses. And that, through this series, we will support a deeper understanding of the key issues and possible ways forward by policymakers, legislators, practitioners and consumers.

Photo credit: Ahmed Zayan on Unsplash.